Spotify made major investments in podcasting over the past several months, comprising the acquisition of podcast hosting firm Megaphone last year and a recently inked partnership to turn exclusive podcasts into shows and movies. Now, Apple is matching those efforts with new updates to its Podcasts app.
Apple announced today that its Podcasts service is introducing in-app subscriptions that will offer consumers ad-free, premium content from various creators. You can also access additional content as well as gain early or exclusive access to new shows. At launch, the subscription service will offer content from Pushkin Industries, QCODE, and Tenderfoot TV, among others. Some major media outlets such as NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and The Athletic are also onboard initially.
The Podcasts subscriptions will roll out to more than 170 countries and regions starting next month. The premium content will be available alongside free offerings from the app. Creators can set the pricing for each subscription on a monthly basis. That said, there's an option for annual billing. Apple will charge creators $19.99 per year so they can offer subscriptions.
In addition, the Cupertino-based tech giant is overhauling the Podcasts app with channels, a new feature to look for curated content featuring "unique titles, descriptions, and artwork". These channels comprise both free and paid content. The app is also getting new pages for every show and episode to make following and listening to content a breeze. There's an improved Search tab as well where you can access Top Charts and categories.
Other features include a new Smart Play button that lets you automatically play episodic shows beginning from the latest episode and serialized shows from the beginning of each series. There's also an option to save individual episodes for offline playback later. These new features are available on iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and macOS 11.3, set for release next week.
For creators, Apple today launched the refreshed Podcasts Connect dashboard, where they can edit metadata, schedule and manage shows, organize content into channels, control multiple roles, and view engagement metrics.