Business News Digital Media

Apple brings premium content option to Podcasts app

By | Published on Wednesday 21 April 2021

Apple Podcast Subscriptions

Apple announced an upgrade of its Podcasts app yesterday which, as expected, will include the option for podcasters to sell subscriptions through the platform, offering a new simpler route for monetisation.

With Apple facing ever tougher competition from rival podcast platforms, not least Spotify, helping podcast makers to generate income from their podcasting has become a top priority.

For some podcasters, monetisation to date has been more advertising based – with ads or advertorial inserted into programmes. Although other podcast makers have opted to generate revenue through subscriptions or donations.

The latter approach usually means using a separate platform for the monetisation, such as Patreon or a bespoke paywalled website, so the podcast goes out through all the various apps, and then listeners are encouraged to support the programme elsewhere online.

However, podcast distributor Acast has been piloting some more direct payment tools of late and, at its recent Stream On event, Spotify indicated that it was planning to allow podcasters to take subscriptions or donations directly via its app too.

Apple’s is the first podcast app to go big on this, though. Podcasters will be able to charge subscription fees to listeners through Apple Podcasts from next month.

Unlike with music, there will be no blanket subscriptions for podcast content. Users will directly subscribe to individual podcasts that choose to go the subscription route, with the podcaster setting the price. Apple will charge the 15-30% commission that is already standard on its App Store – so 30% for the first year of any one subscription, 15% for subsequent years.

Quite what extra benefits a paying subscriber receives is also up to the podcaster. It’s expected that most podcasters will still make at least some content available for free with the subscription an upsell for extra content, though Apple won’t dictate how any of that works.

Announcing the arrival of the premium subscriptions element to its Podcasts app, Apple’s SVP Of Internet Software And Services, Eddy Cue, says: “Fifteen years ago, Apple took podcasts mainstream, offering creators a premiere, open platform to inform, entertain, and inspire hundreds of millions of listeners around the world”.

“Today”, he adds, “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”.

The premium subscriptions functionality is not the only innovation within the Apple Podcasts app, with other changes including a refreshed design and efforts to make it easier to navigate and discover podcast content.

However, the premium subscriptions bit was the most significant part of yesterday’s announcement. Companies already set to launch premium subscriptions around their podcasts when the new functionality goes live next month include Tenderfoot TV, the LA Times, NPR and Sony Music.

Confirming its involvement, Sony’s President Of Global Digital Business And US Sales, Dennis Kooker, says: “Apple is putting creators first with their approach to the subscription model. Offering subscriptions provides new flexibility and options for consumers, and is an important addition to helping creators better monetise their works. All of this will lead to more investment and even better shows for podcast fans”.