Shocker! Podcaster claims Apple prioritizes paid shows over free ones

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Macworld

In a perfect walled garden, every digital good and service would be on a level playing field and creators would all have an equal shot at succeeding. In the real world, that’s just not the case.

According to a report by Semafor, a podcaster looking to get featured in one of the main slots in the Podcast app’s Browse tab should start by joining Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, which offers listeners “premium benefits like ad-free listening, early access, and bonus episodes” for a monthly fee. Podcasters need to join Apple Podcasters Program for $20 a year. And of course, Apple takes its standard 30 percent cut of any subscription revenue.

Semafor reports that when “an executive at an independent podcast” contacted Apple about getting a featured spot in the Podcast app, it was “suggested that the show participate in the platform’s new subscription program.” A second podcaster told the publication that the subscription plan “was worth participating for the benefit of the podcast feed placement.”

Of course, that’s not to say podcasters who aren’t in the program have no chance of getting a coveted carousel slot. A quick scan of the current shows sitting at the top of the screen shows a mix of subscription and non-subscription podcasts, though most are from big names, including NASA and Serial. Semafor’s report indicates that smaller podcasts might have a much harder time getting a coveted spot in the carousel if they’re not part of Apple’s Podcaster Program.

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