April 29, 2021

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions: What Now?

Apple's opening the door to premium podcast content right within its app. The question is: how does this change the podcasting landscape?

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions: What Now?

Jason Snell has written up a great overview of Apple's new Podcasts Subscriptions service over at his blog, Six Colors:

Now that I’ve had a week to think about the announcement, my feelings about the service are better in focus, but they’re still conflicted. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions has a lot going for it—but its limitations reinforce that this is really just a first attempt. Worse, Apple Podcasts Subscriptions highlights how some of Apple’s App Store policies effectively bar any other podcast app developer from competing with Apple.

As a podcaster with a Patreon, I normally wouldn't be worried about something like this. After all, if I don't need it, I won't use it. My concern comes from Apple's attempts at versions 1.1, 1.2, 1.5, 2.0 and onward.

Apple's Podcasts directory was just a neutral dumping ground for people's shows. Yes, they paid attention to popular outlets like NPR and Gimlet, but you never had to worry about them rejecting your show because it competed with them--there was never anything to compete with.

But what happens if Apple decides that mentioning a Patreon or Ko-Fi link in your show notes is akin to direct competition with their subscription service? Are those shows now forced to pay the $20/year + 30% fees in order to remain in the store?

For me, Apple Podcasts Subscriptions invites more questions than it has answers.