Image Credit: Apple

Apple have detailed updates coming to their podcast platform next week and plans for Apple Podcasts Subscriptions due in May.

Reports of a paid Apple Podcasts subscription circulated in January, after Spotify were thought to be considering the same thing due to a survey that went out in November last year. Visual updates and plans for Apple Podcasts Subscriptions were touched on briefly at Apple’s Spring Loaded event, but full details came later via a press release.

Apple have been doing podcasts since 2005 and now host over 2 million free shows. Until now, creators have generally monetized their podcasts through third-party means such as ads, sponsorships, merchandise and Patreon. In the last example, patrons or fans of creators will pay a recurring amount for access to exclusive content, such as early access, bonus episodes, behind the scenes content and free merch. Apple’s new Podcasts Subcriptions hopes to offer this kind of service but right on the Apple Podcasts app itself.

Apple lists some premium subscriptions that will be available at launch such as The Midnight Miracle, a new original series hosted by Talib Kweli, Yasiin Bey, and Dave Chappelle that will be available through the Luminary channel. Premium subscription will come from indepedent voices and premier studio such as Tenderfoot TV, Pushkin Industries, Radiotopia from PRX, and QCODE, as well as those from leading media and entertainment brands including NPR, the Los Angeles Times, The Athletic, Sony Music Entertainment and more. Premium shows from these channels will be available alongside the existing free shows on Apple Podcasts.

Apple Podcast Channels
Image Credit: Apple

Channels are curated groups of shows, each with unique names, descriptions and artwork. The benefits offered by each premium channel are curated by the channels themselves, with perks for listeners such as ad-free listening, access to additional content, and early or exclusive access to new series. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions will start in May in more than 170 countries and regions.

Image Credit: Apple

The Apple Podcasts app on iPhone, iPad and Mac will also be getting a visual overhaul, featuring an enhanced search tab, with quick access to Top Charts and categories, plus beautiful new pages for every show and episodes, making it easier to follow, listen and share. A new Smart Play button helps listeners automatically start episodic shows from the latest episodes and serialized shows from the beginning of each series. You’ll also be able to save individual episodes for offline playback, making it easy to bookmark podcasts to listen to later from the Library. These updates will come to iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and macOS 11.3, due to release publicly next week. Saved Episodes will also be available via watchOS 7.4 and tvOS 14.5.

Fifteen years ago, Apple took podcasts mainstream, offering creators a premier, open platform to inform, entertain, and inspire hundreds of millions of listeners around the world. Today, Apple Podcasts is the best place for listeners to discover and enjoy millions of great shows, and we are proud to lead the next chapter of podcasting with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions. We’re excited to introduce this powerful new platform to creators around the world, and we can’t wait to hear what they make with it.

Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Apple

With the new ways for podcasters to earn revenue from their shows, comes a new Apple Podcasts for Creators website. The site is designed to help creators learn more about podcasting, stay informed about the latest news and feature, and explore in-depth guides with the best practices. Apple have also updated the Apple Podcasts Connect dashboard. Available to all creators today, the update makes it easier to manage shows, with the ability to edit metadata, schedule and manage show availability, organize shows into channels, manage multiple users and roles, and learn how listeners are engaging with their shows. The Apple Podcasts Analytics feature exits beta, offering new performance metrics such as Engaged Listeners and Listeners by City, as well as visulalization tools such as the new Episode Performance chart, that compares listeners across episodes over configurable time periods.

Creators interested in the tools needed to build and distribute premium subscription can enroll in the new Apple Podcasters Program via Apple Podcasts Connect, for $19.99 per year. Pricing for each subscription is set by the creator and billed monthly by default. Creators can also offer annual billing, as well as free trials and sample episodes. Listeners manage podcast subscriptions in their Apple ID account settings. Up to six family members can share a subscription through Family Sharing.