Apple Podcasts Subscriptions launch delayed to June — what we know

Apple Podcasts subscriptions
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has been forced to delay the launch of its ambitious new podcast service just days before it was due to arrive. 

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions was unveiled at the company’s Spring Loaded event last month, with CEO Tim Cook promising that it would represent “the biggest change to Apple Podcasts since its debut.” But evidently the changes were a little too big for Apple’s planned launch date of May, and it has now been pushed back to next month.

The new Podcast Subscriptions service includes several major changes to the Podcast app, including the rollout of channels for discovery and optional paid subscriptions. The latter would allow creators to monetize their podcasts to Apple’s audience of more than 1 billion active iPhone users worldwide. 

Originally, the company said Apple Podcast Subscriptions would launch in May, but with just days left to meet that deadline, Apple has accepted it won’t be met, with next month the new target.

“To ensure we are delivering the best experience for creators and listeners, Apple Podcasts Subscriptions and channels will now launch in June,” the company wrote in an email to creators obtained by 9to5Mac. “We will communicate further updates on availability, and best practices to help you prepare your subscriptions and channels, through this newsletter.”

In the same note, Apple reports a degree of excitement about the changes, citing “hundreds of new subscriptions and channels submitted from creators around the world every day.” 

But it’s not all positive, with the company also tacitly acknowledging that the update to Podcasts in iOS 14.5 has divided opinion, to put it kindly. “We’ve also heard from listeners and made adjustments based on their feedback with iOS 14.6, which was released on Monday,” the company wrote. “We will introduce additional enhancements to Library in the coming weeks.”

Paid subscriptions are a bit of an unknown quantity for a medium that has largely been free to all since launch, but Apple hopes that there’s a market for audiences wanting ad-free experiences, early access, extra episodes and other bonuses. The company will take a 30% cut of all subscriptions for the first year, but this drops to 15% each year after that.  

Apple isn’t the only company that believes people will pay for podcasts if packaged appealingly enough. Last month, Spotify launched its own paid podcast service in the United States, with prices set between $2.99 and $7.99 depending on the podcaster’s own preference. 

Notably, Spotify isn’t planning on taking a cut of fees for the first two years, presumably hoping that it will persuade some of the most popular podcasters to sign up with it over Apple when the rival service does eventually launch.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.