Apple Podcasts now offers in-app subscriptions in more than 170 countries, about a month after the feature was first scheduled to launch. With this feature live, listeners can pay to support shows and networks for access to ad-free content and, in some cases, other perks like early access to episodes. They can also pay for access to a channel, which is basically like supporting a podcast network and applying these paid perks to all the shows it makes.
A few big shows and networks are participating at launch. Luminary, which made its name selling subscriptions for its own in-app content, is now selling subs through Apple. NPR also sells ad-free subscriptions, as does Wondery, among many others.
Once people have paid for access, a “Subscriber Edition” label will show up on their feeds to signify that they’re able to hear everything. The process to sign up is seamless; listeners just have to tap a button to subscribe and everything runs through Apple’s built-in payment processing.
Apple’s biggest competitor, Spotify, is also eyeing subscription podcasts. In its case, the company hasn’t built an in-app button but rather requires podcasters to link out to an external Anchor webpage where listeners can pay. Of course, other platforms, like Patreon, have also focused on paid podcast content, but bringing the button into the Apple Podcasts app could be potentially huge, as listeners don’t have to struggle to find the place to listen and subscribe.
That’s the broader promise of the feature: a way to easily allow listeners to pay for podcast content in the place where they’re already enjoying shows. Soon we’ll see how this actually pans out for the podcasters themselves.