Apple is launching a subscription option to an updated podcast app. CEO Tim Cook made the announcement at the start of the company’s ‘Spring Loaded’ event.

Apple Launches Podcast Subscriptions

“Apple helped launch the podcast industry,” Mr. Cook declared, before showing images of the updated app. He also revealed that in May, listeners in over 170 countries and regions will be able to sign up for premium subscriptions. Podcasters will be able to offer subscribers various new features such as ad-free listening, access to additional content, and early or exclusive access to new series. Tenderfoot TV, Pushkin Industries, Radiotopia from PRX, and QCODE, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, The Athletic, Sony Music Entertainment are amongst those signed up to the subscriptions program.

Alex Mather, founder and CEO of The Athletic, commented:

Our team loves bringing deeply immersive storytelling to maniacal sports fans around the world, and our listeners tune in to over a million hours of sports news, analysis, and storytelling each week. We know true sports fans are always looking for stories about their clubs and teams told through a new lens, and with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, we can deliver even more great stories in an all-new way, ad free, directly through Apple Podcasts.

Mr. Cook’s sentiment was echoed in a statement by Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services.

Today, 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.

Podcasts App Gets Overhaul

To accompany Podcast Subscriptions, Apple also updated the app. From May, users will be able to discover channels – groups of shows curated by creators with unique titles, descriptions, and artwork. The idea is to make it easy for users to be able to find both free and premium podcasts more easily.

There will also be a Search tab for quick access to Top Charts and categories. And new pages for every show and episode to make it easier to follow, listen, and share. There will also be a new Smart Play button, which automatically starts episodic shows from the latest episode and serialized shows from the beginning of each series. Furthermore, users can save individual episodes and download them for offline playback, bookmarking them in Library.

New Website for Creators

Apple launched a new Podcasts for Creators website too. Creators can sing up to the Apple Podcasts Connect dashboard. This contains new features including the ability to edit metadata, schedule and manage show availability, organize shows into channels, and manage multiple users and roles. There are also analytics tools so creators can learn how listeners are engaging with their shows through new performance metrics and visualization tools. The website also provides access to the Apple Podcasters Program, which allows creators to distribute their shows with a premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts.

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