Apple Podcast Subscriptions are live as of Tuesday, letting you buy membership to individual podcasts and channels of shows. The marketplace is live worldwide and includes shows from brands such as NPR, the Washington Post and CNN, as well as individual creators like Dave Chappelle, Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland.
Creators set the price for the subscriptions, which start at 50 cents a month. Creators can also offer monthly or annual billing. There are sometimes offers to listen to episodes free first, or try out a channel for a month before paying.
You can still listen to all of these podcasts free, as you typically have. But becoming a subscriber lets you unlock new content and benefits like ad-free listening and early access.
"Listeners can't get enough of their favorite podcasts and want a simple way to support the extraordinary creators who make them possible," said Oliver Schusser, Apple's vice president of Apple Music and Beats, in a press release.
How to buy an Apple podcast subscription
Here's how to find and buy Apple podcast subscriptions. You'll need a device running iOS 14.6, iPadOS 14.6 or MacOS 11.4 or later.
1. Open the Apple Podcasts app.
2. To find a channel (basically a collection of podcasts under one topic), tap Browse and scroll down to Featured Channels. Or tap Listen Now, and scroll down to Channels to Try. Select the channel you want and tap Subscribe (or Try free, if there's a free trial involved).
3. To find a podcast, simply search for one as you normally would (or, open one you already have downloaded in your library). If the creator is allowing for subscribers, on the main podcast page, you'll see a black box that says something like "Join now for ad-free listening & exclusive content." Tap Subscribe or Try free.
Once you purchase a subscription, you'll see a "Subscriber Edition" label on the show, and recommendations from that show will pop up in different tabs of the app, including Listen Now. After you subscribe to two or more channels, you'll see a "My Channels" row in the Listen Now tab so you can quickly find and start listening to the podcasts you've paid for. You can manage your Apple podcast subscriptions from your Apple ID Account Settings, accessible from the top of the Listen Now tab.
You'll be able to play your podcasts on a variety of Apple devices, such as the HomePod Mini and the Apple Watch, in addition to your iPhone. Each Apple Podcasts Subscription can be shared among six family members through Family Sharing.