Apple has introduced the ability for users to connect subscriptions and unlock subscriber-only content from third-party services within its Podcasts app in the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 17.
If a user subscribes to a publisher’s product via Apple’s App Store, their subscription will automatically connect to the Podcasts app to unlock subscriber-only content. Users who subscribe using other methods – such as via a publisher’s website – must manually connect their subscriptions by signing in.
“Listeners can connect their paid subscriptions to select apps on the App Store to enjoy new shows and additional premium audio benefits included as part of their existing subscriptions,” the company said.
Starting in October, listeners will be able to connect their subscriptions to Bloomberg, Curio, L’Équipe, Mamamia, The Economist, The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and WELT News, Apple said. The company also implied it may help audiences discover publishers’ paywalled content by surfacing and flagging it in various places across its app.
Publishers have dabbled with subscriber-only podcasts in recent years, but few have opted to make audio a core part of their subscription offerings. That’s changing as audience demand for audio continues to grow, major platforms such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify add support for subscriber-only content, and publishers increasingly look for ways to offer audiences a broader array of subscription products and options.
A handful of major publishers are now opting to make podcasts and other audio content available only to paying subscribers, and others say they’re actively considering doing the same.
The Economist announced in September that the majority of its podcasts will be placed behind its paywall beginning in October, for example, presumably in part to capitalize on the new Apple functionality. Access will be available to fully-fledged Economist subscribers, but can also be purchased via a new dedicated podcast tier called Economist Podcasts+, the company said.
Apple’s major podcasting rival Spotify now offers similar functionality for consumers to access subscriber-only content via its platform. Its “Open Access” program allows Spotify users to unlock and listen to content they paid for via third parties by signing in and linking their accounts. In September, Spotify announced it would use the program to allow Patreon subscribers to access patron-exclusive podcasts directly on Spotify, for example.