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Delayed Apple Podcast Subscriptions to launch next week

At its Spring Loaded event, Apple stated that its Podcast Subscriptions service would arrive in May. It missed that launch window, but it appears the delay won’t be a long one with the service now set to launch this month.

In an email to podcasters seen by The Verge, Apple stated that the global launch of subscriptions and channels will now be on Tuesday June 15. In a previous email, Apple had told content creators that the delay was to “ensure we are delivering the best experience for creators and listeners.”

We have reached out to Apple to seek confirmation of the new launch window, and to ask more about the nature of the delay. We will update this post if and when we hear more.

The changes – dubbed by CEO Tim Cook as “the biggest change to Apple Podcasts since its debut” – introduce channels to help listeners discover new podcasts and optional paid subscriptions to help creators move away from the perilous ad-funded model that has so far sustained the industry. 

For the listener, the benefit won’t just be a podcast without the constant interruption of adverts for web hosting and mattresses, but potentially extras like early access and subscriber-only bonus episodes.
Apple isn’t the only company looking to see if the public has an appetite for paid podcast content. Spotify has also introduced its own paid service, which is currently available in the United States with subscription prices pitched between $2.99 and $7.99 per month. The company has previously spent big on podcasts, buying podcasting companies Gimlet and Parcast, as well as making the platform the exclusive home of The Joe Rogan Experience.

While Apple has the advantage of getting its Podcast app onto over one billion iPhones worldwide, Spotify has its own perks for creators too. For one thing, the music streaming company isn’t planning on taking any cut of fees for the first two years, while Apple will take a 30% of sales for the first year, dropping to 15% after that. 

While it’s far from certain that there’s much of a future in paywalled podcasts, given the medium’s long association with being free to enjoy, it’s hard to imagine two more formidable backers for the experiment than Apple and Spotify. We’ll get our first idea of how viable the business model is for iPhone users from June 15.

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