Apple Launches Paid Podcast Subscriptions

Creators will be able to charge listeners directly starting next month

In a move CEO Tim Cook called “the biggest change” to Apple Podcasts in 15 years, Apple on Tuesday announced it would soon be adding paid podcast subscriptions to its podcast app.

The new feature was announced during Apple’s “Spring Loaded” virtual product launch on Tuesday. It’ll be available in 170 countries starting next month, the tech giant said in an accompanying blog post.

Pricing for each podcast subscription will be set by creators and billed each month, Apple said. Creators will also be able to offer annual billing options, and listeners will be able to access free trials and sample episodes, although details weren’t shared on how long the freebie trials would last. Apple said it already has deals in place with a number of media outlets to offer paid podcasts, including The Athletic, NPR and The Los Angeles Times.

“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,” Apple SVP Eddy Cue 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 also said it’ll be offering the “Apple Podcasters Program,” which “includes all of he tools needed to offer premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts,” to creators for $19.99 per year. The goal looks pretty clear cut: to make money off both creators and listeners when it comes to subscription-supported podcasts.

It’s unclear whether Apple’s podcast subscriptions will be included in its family plan bundles, offering customers cheaper prices on a combination of its services like Apple Music and Apple TV+.

Apple’s podcast app has been the go-to spot for millions of podcasts fans to enjoy their content over the years; As TheWrap reported last summer, Apple is responsible for 42.7% of all devices downloading podcasts, according to data shared by Chartable. For comparison, Spotify claimed 19.9% of all unique podcast downloaders at the time. (Spotify has looked to close the podcasting gap with Apple in the last two years, though, by investing significantly in podcast tech and shows, including a big spend to land The Joe Rogan Experience last year.)

The tech giant’s podcast app has been criticized for being clunky and out of date by many users in recent years, though, with Big Technology’s Alex Kantrowitz telling TheWrap a few months back Apple’s app is “one of the worst out there.” In a move that may satiate some of Apple’s critics, Cook said a revamped podcast app will be available in the near future.

Other product announcements from Apple on Tuesday included a new Apple TV device; an updated iPad is also expected to be announced by the end of the event.


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