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What is Apple Podcasts Subscriptions? Here’s all you need to know

You might have already heard people talking about Apple Podcasts Subscriptions  — or perhaps you’ve seen the subscription options while browsing Apple Podcasts. If you’re anything like us, you probably panicked and wondered exactly how you were going to fund your podcast habit. There’s no need to worry, though — Apple Podcast Subscriptions is just an optional extra for those who love listening to Apple Podcasts, so you won’t have to pay to keep listening to all your favorite shows. Phew!

We’ve got the lowdown on what to expect from Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, what it costs, and how to sign up.

Need some more listening inspiration? Check out our pick of the best podcasts to listen to. We’ve also picked some of the best true crime and history podcasts around, if that’s what you’re into.

What exactly is Apple Podcasts Subscriptions?

Three phone screens showing different Apple Podcasts for the Apple Podcasts Subscription service.

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions is a creator-led service that allows content creators to monetize and distribute their podcast content. Put simply, independent content creators, studios, and media brands can add content that’s only available to subscribers, like ad-free listening and early access to new episodes or shows. This latest subscription service from Apple joins its other offerings like Apple TV Plus and Apple Music — but it works a bit differently from your standard, fixed-price subscription service.

If you’re a content creator, you can sign up to the Apple Podcasts Program for $20 per year, which lets you create and distribute premium content via a subscription, as well as offering access to support and user metrics for your content, helping you build a better podcast. Apple takes 30% of your podcast subscription fees for your first year — 15% in the following years.

How much does it cost?

Unlike other subscription services, the cost of Apple Podcasts Subscriptions is set by the content creator. This means creators set their own pricing, starting at a minimum of 49 cents per month. Subscriptions are generally billed monthly, but creators can offer annual billing if they want. There’s also the option to sign up for Family Sharing, which allows up to six members of your family to share a subscription — great if you’re all frequent podcast listeners.

You can subscribe to a podcast offering subscriptions by going to the podcast page in the app. Some creators allow a free trial or sample episode, which you’ll see at the top of the podcast — or you can subscribe, and the cost will be shown when you do this. You can manage your subscriptions — or cancel them — at any time by going to your Apple ID account settings.

My favorite podcasts are still free, right?

Apple Podcasts subscription channels.

As we mentioned above, there’s no need to worry, as all your favorite podcasts will still be free to listen to — in fact, there are over one million podcasts to choose from on Apple Podcasts. The subscription service is just an optional extra for content creators to offer to their listeners, and you might get to enjoy ad-free listening, bonus episodes, or early access to episodes if you sign up.

How to sign up for Apple Podcasts Subscriptions

The Apple Podcasts app has been updated with new channels, groups of shows curated by podcast creators. There are paid and free channels, so you can select which type of content you’d like to see. Subscriptions are available on individual podcast show pages — browsing through the paid channels is the easiest way to find new shows to subscribe to, although you may find some of your favorite shows have already signed up for the service. Any podcast offering a subscription will show this button — plus the cost of a sub — on the main podcast page in the app.

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Paula Beaton
Freelance tech and travel writer living in (somewhat) sunny Scotland. Gamer, tea addict, never without a good book.
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