Apple is now rolling out its new podcast subscription and channels initiative. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions allow creators to host bonus content and ad-free versions of their shows, in exchange for a monthly subscription.
You can now listen to 9to5Mac Happy Hour ad–free, for instance. Apple has partnered with large podcasts networks including Wondery and Luminary to get their paywalled shows available inside Apple Podcasts app.
Apple Podcasts Subscriptions offer a lot of convenience for listeners. Fans of a show or network can subscribe with one button press inside the Podcasts app, using their Apple ID credentials. Apple then distributes the premium content automatically to subscribers as it becomes available.
Podcasts Subscriptions have been met with some criticism by the podcast community in large part because of Apple’s high fees. Apple takes 30% commission on all podcasts subscriptions and purchases made inside Apple Podcasts are not exposed to third-party clients.
However, podcast creators are allowed to continue to monetize their shows outside of Apple Podcasts Subscriptions in whatever way they choose. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions represent one additional option, alongside services like Patreon or Memberful.
Apple Podcasts Channels are also rolling out today. Channels allow anyone to group their shows into a dedicated page, including custom branding and artwork. Channels are offered to creators for free and can be used whether a podcast takes advantage of the subscription features or not. For instance, Wondery and Luminary now have channels representing a collection of their respective shows. Paid subscriptions to a channel auomatically unlock all shows with subscription benefits inside it.
The launch of Podcasts Subscriptions was originally meant to start in May but the company delayed the rollout by a couple of weeks.
Following the rollout of the redesigned Podcasts app in iOS 14.5, podcast makers were facing issues with slow distribution of episodes by Apple Podcasts and Podcast app users were airing complaints about elements of the new design. Apple says some improvements to the Podcasts app were released in iOS 14.6 update and more changes to the Library tab are on the way, probably as part of iOS 14.7.