Apple Announces Apple Podcasts Subscriptions

Apple today announced Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, allowing users to unlock additional podcast benefits such as ad-free listening, access to additional content, and early or exclusive access to new series.

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Apple says that users will be able to enjoy a range of premium subscriptions from NPR, the Los Angeles Times, Sony Music Entertainment, and more. Listeners will also be able to access channels, which are groups of shows that feature unique titles, descriptions, and artwork. ‌Apple Podcasts‌ Subscriptions will be available in over 170 countries in May.

With iOS 14.5, the Podcasts app is gaining a major redesign with an enhanced Search tab and updated pages for shows and episodes. There's also a new Smart Play button that lets users automatically start the latest episode from episodic shows. Additionally, users can download individual episodes for offline playback, making podcast listening more accessible.

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Apple also unveiled a new Apple Podcasts for Creators website that is designed to help creators learn more about podcasting. Creators can also now access an updated ‌Apple Podcasts‌ Connect dashboard that has new features to make it easier to manage shows on ‌Apple Podcasts‌, and creators can use the site to enroll in the Apple Podcasters Program to access the tools needed to build and distribute premium subscriptions on ‌Apple Podcasts‌.

This story was part of our live coverage of Apple's ongoing "Spring Loaded" event today. Read our live blog for a recap of other announcements.

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Top Rated Comments

Der Keyser Avatar
42 months ago
Ahhhh crap... so they will put an add engine into their podcast app, and you’ll need a subscription to disable it?
I really hate how everything is about making more and more money now.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Feyl Avatar
42 months ago
The design is still a mess so nothing else matters to me. I love Pocket Casts.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kc9hzn Avatar
42 months ago

Ahhhh crap... so they will put an add engine into their podcast app, and you’ll need a subscription to disable it?
I really hate how everything is about making more and more money now.
I’m assuming ad-free listening means ad-free versions of podcasts that usually have, as the industry puts it, “content native ads” (ie sponsor breaks hard encoded in the podcast). The idea is something like Patreon or Twitch (or like Apple News+), where, by subscribing to the service and subscribing to a participating podcast, Apple pays the podcasters. Like with Patreon, a podcast could also set up special episodes for supporters or early access, as well.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kc9hzn Avatar
42 months ago
In other words, Patreon, except with Apple billing.

Edit: Not a bad thing, one fewer account to manage. I forgot my wallet back home the other day and thought I might have been pickpocketed. So I replaced my card right away, just in case. It’s been a slog changing everywhere important that I used the old card at.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RamGuy Avatar
42 months ago
Podcast exclusivity is even worse. I hate the move to having ads everywhere. Both within the app itself and during the podcast itself. But I have no issue with supporting my podcast creators by listening to ads during the podcast as long as it doesn't get out of hand and the volume level of the ads aren't completely out of sync. On the other hand, exclusivity makes podcasting that has always been a free and open market being funnelled into specific apps is just terrible.

I don't want to use Spotify for listening to podcasts. Funnelling "premium" podcasts into Spotify and Spotify only creates fragmentation, and I won't be shuffling several apps to keep on top of my podcasts. And a lot of these apps have their strength and weakness. I love to have the freedom to choose whatever app provides me with the best experience and have all my podcasts playable within that app. If I cannot play a podcast using Castro, my current preferred podcast app, I will ignore those podcasts.

If Apple becomes more serious with this "premium" trend in the podcasting world, they need to put much more effort into the podcast app. It's just terrible for managing, sorting, and prioritising podcasts. It still lacks basic features like smart play / shorten silence and volume normalisation that you get from great third-party podcasting apps like Castro Pocket Cast and Overcast.

The worst part with using Apple's podcast app is how it doesn't stay in sync between my M1 Mac mini and my iPhone 12 Pro Max. I did my best to get some kind of prioritising going within the app. As the utilities to do so is so limited, I just had to move my podcast around, so my most prioritised ones are at the top. But as soon as I got this completed on my phone, it was still not sorted the same way in the podcast app on my Mac. And If I tried to make changes on my Mac, it would reset the sorting on my iPhone. Come on now, Apple, how hard could this be?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dandoodle Avatar
42 months ago
No mention of apple one?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)