30 April 2021
UPDATE (June 10th, 2021):
Apple has made it official that in-app Podcasts subscriptions will go live on June 15th. The confirmation was made through an email sent to all the podcasters. It will also launch delayed features like Apple Podcast Channels within this month. There were a number of issues that podcasters had to face last month which are now expected to get sorted by the time subscriptions become available.
UPDATE (May 31st, 2021):
Apple Podcasts subscriptions have been delayed to June. These were scheduled to release in the month of May but the company has decided to push it back. This is due to the feedback shared by podcast creators who found themselves running into different issues with the app. Apple says it is working on fixing things and will release subscriptions only after ensuring that the app is "delivering the best experience for creators and listeners."
Original (April 21st, 2021)
Apple held its Spring Loaded event where it announced several new products, including new iMac, iPad Pro, AirTag, and more. Together with them, Apple also announced that its Podcasts is getting the biggest change since its debut that happened 15 years back.
The biggest change starts with the redesigned Apple Podcasts app. Every show and episode now has their own page so that it is easy for users to find what they want to listen to. Also, users will be able to follow a particular show and share it with friends easily.
The updated app also features an enhanced Search tab that provides quick access to Top Charts and categories. There is a new Smart Play button that helps listeners automatically start episodic shows from the latest episode and serialized shows. Listeners can now also save individual episodes, which are downloaded for offline playback.
Listeners can access the redesigned Apple Podcasts app after the iOS 14.5 update.
Apple has also introduced Channels to help you find new shows from favorite creators. Channels serve as groups of shows curated by creators with unique titles, descriptions, and artwork. You will also see recommendations for new Channels to explore
Another biggest change introduced to the Podcasts app is Subscriptions. As the name implies, you can now subscribe to Apple Podcasts for some additional or special benefits, including ad-free listening, access to additional content, benefits curated by creators, early or exclusive access to new series. Listeners will be able to enjoy premium subscriptions from independent voices and premier studios, including Tenderfoot TV, Pushkin Industries, Radiotopia from PRX, and QCODE, to leading media and entertainment brands, including NPR, the Los Angeles Times, The Athletic, Sony Music Entertainment, and many more.
Apple Podcasts Subscriptions launches in 170 regions and countries altogether next month. Apple announces that pricing for each subscription is set by creators and billed monthly by default. Creators need to enroll in the Apple Podcasters Program through Apple Podcasts Connect in order to start a subscription program. The program is available to creators for $19.99 in the US and according to Apple, it includes all the tools needed to get started with the subscriptions.
As per the Apple Podcasters Program agreement (via TheVerge), Apple will take 30 percent of revenue for the first year of a subscriber’s lifetime and 15 percent for the years following. This means if a subscriber subscribes for one year, a podcaster will give Apple 30 percent of that revenue.
Also, podcasters/creators will use Apple’s backend to upload their podcasts. And, due to this, they will not be able to receive specific data about their paying listeners, like email, names, or contact information. Apple owns the full relationship.