Has Apple Just Saved Podcasting?

Nick Hilton
Pod Culture
Published in
6 min readApr 21, 2021

The great Apple in the sky has spoken! Podcasting is saved! Long live our fruit-based overlords!

As I anticipated in my article 5 Predictions for Podcasting in 2021 (indeed it was prediction №1), Apple has awoken. At an event where they launched a new iPad Pro and a range of iMacs so skinny they finally understand how Kate Moss felt, Tim Cook delivered a bit of a bombshell for podcasters — a totally redesigned Apple Podcasts app, new Podcasts Connect interface, and, crucially, a subscription service to help podcasters paywall their content.

If you want to better understand the nub of these innovations, start with Justin Jackson’s explainer video (above) or read today’s PodNews. There are going to be all sorts of technical elements that they are better placed to expand upon, but the question I want to look at — quickly — today, is what the short and medium term consequences are likely to be for Joe & Jane Podcaster. There are two major impacts that I want to examine: is this going to change the discoverability conundrum? And, is this a realistic path to monetisation for independent podcasters?

The Discoverability Conundrum

Here, I am moderately concerned.

The growing influence of ‘channels’ in the model Apple are presenting suggests that they are going to further reinforce their curation in favour of publishers from the mainstream, who have a number of shows across their network (this has been previously been a discreet feature of the Apple store, under the featured providers tab). I suspect they are, understandably, afraid that the hands-on approach that Spotify are taking with podcasters and podcast companies (I think you’ll struggle to meet a podcaster in London or New York who hasn’t been shown around the Spotify offices at some point in the past couple of years) is alienating publishers away from Apple’s notoriously hands-off approach.

You can see in the demonstration video that they are already working with partner channels like Luminary, QCODE and…

Nick Hilton
Pod Culture

Writer. Media entrepreneur. London. Interested in technology and the media. Co-founder podotpods.com Email: nick@podotpods.com.