Apple Podcasts Subscriptions make their official debut

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Podcasts
Creators can now charge subscription fees.
Photo: Apple

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions went live Tuesday, allowing podcasters around the world to charge monthly subscriptions for their shows. When announced at Apple’s Spring Loaded event in April, the company billed the feature as a “global marketplace for listeners to discover premium subscriptions offered by their favorite creators.”

The premium podcasts show up in Apple’s Podcast app, complete with the ability to subscribe, in more than 170 countries and regions, Apple said. And the new option gives podcasters a fresh way to cash in on the craze Apple helped start.

“Listeners can’t get enough of their favorite podcasts and want a simple way to support the extraordinary creators who make them possible,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, in a press release Tuesday. “Now, listeners can enjoy new content and additional benefits for thousands of new and popular podcasts, alongside millions of free shows, with more arriving every week. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions will help creators grow their businesses and continue to make podcasting an important source of information, entertainment, connection, and inspiration for hundreds of millions of listeners around the world.”

For the launch, Apple lined up an impressive list of entertainers and major media outlets offering subscriber-only content. Big names include Dave Chappelle, Malcolm Gladwell and outlets like CNN and Barstool Sports.

How Apple Podcasts Subscriptions work

Most of the podcasts using the new feature at this point offer a free trial period. That lets listeners sample the subscription version for a few days before being asked to pay. Podcasters can utilize the subscription option to offer ad-free listening, early access to episodes, bonus content and access to archives.

“When listeners purchase a subscription to a show, they automatically follow the show and the page is updated with a Subscriber Edition label so they know they have access to the premium experience,” Apple said. “Listeners can discover channels for their favorite podcasts from each show page and through Search, explore recommendations from the Listen Now and Browse tabs, and share channels using Messages, Mail, and other apps. As listeners subscribe to channels, the Listen Now tab expands with new rows that provide easy access to all of the content included in the channel and with their subscription. Listeners who subscribe to two or more channels will see a My Channels row in the Listen Now tab, where they can browse and follow all of the shows offered.”

Apple originally planned to launch podcasts subscriptions in May. However, in an email to podcasters, Apple pushed back the launch to June 15 to ensure the “best experience for creators and listeners.” It remains unclear what caused the delay. However, Apple apparently fixed the problem.

Apple Podcasts Channels launched Tuesday as well. Channels lets podcasts be grouped together into dedicated pages, complete with custom branding.

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions: Like an App Store for podcasts

The possibility of paid Apple podcasts was first rumored earlier this year. A couple of years before this, reports surfaced that Apple had held discussions with podcasters about buying the rights to their shows.

Many people therefore expected an all-you-can-eat Podcasts+ subscription similar to Apple Music. Instead, Apple’s new subscription podcasts fall more in line with the App Store model by letting creators pick their own prices. Apple then charges a 30% commission.

“You have more ways than ever to earn revenue through your podcast,” Apple told podcasters in its description of the service. “With Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, you receive 70% of the subscription price at each billing cycle, minus applicable taxes. After a subscriber accumulates one year of paid service, your net revenue increases to 85% of the subscription price, minus applicable taxes. Your other podcast revenue — including any ads — will stay 100% yours.”

Apple steps up podcast efforts

It’s a neat concept. Apple helped popularize podcasts before losing its dominant position. Now, with other companies like Spotify making advances in this area, Apple’s looking to bolster its podcast offerings.

Are you a podcast creator or consumer? How do you feel about Apple Podcasts Subscriptions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.