Tech

Apple Podcasters Can Offer Subscriptions Starting Soon

Courtesy of Apple

Podcast subscriptions will be available to both podcast creators and fans in 170 regions and countries next month

During its Spring event today (April 20) Apple announced a new subscription offering for podcasters on its platform that will allow podcasters to offer individual subscriptions to fans starting next month.

Subscriptions will offer support for ad-free listening, exclusive content, and early access to new shows. The first slate of podcasts offering subscriptions will come from podcast producers including Sony Music Entertainment, NPR, The Los Angeles Times, and The Athletic.

"We are proud to lead the next chapter of podcasting with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions," Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services said in a statement. "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."

Apple has also redesigned its Podcasting app, with improved search and resigned show pages. The updated app will also introduce a new feature called Channels, which will let podcast creators bundle their shows together on a single page with their own artwork and descriptions to make it easier for users to find their content.

Apple’s Podcast division helped popularize the format when podcast support was added to iTunes in 2005, but in recent years it has given up a massive lead to Spotify, which has grown furiously over the past few years. According to market research firm eMarketer, Spotify is expected to pass Apple Podcasts in U.S.-based monthly podcast listeners this year, with 28.2 million listeners every month, compared to Apple’s 28 million.

Apple may be the first major platform to offer a podcast subscription service, but it seemingly won’t be the last, as Spotify has hinted it is considering its own subscription offering for its popular (and exclusive) podcasts. The company has surveyed users about a podcast subscription that could cost anywhere from $3 to $8 a month, and offer “access to exclusive interviews and podcasts.” The move for Spotify — which has heavily invested in podcasts over the past three years — could help lead the company to sustainable profitability, if the endeavor is successful.

Apple says podcast subscriptions will be available to both podcast creators and fans in 170 regions and countries in May.