Apple will soon no longer let users “subscribe” to podcasts. Instead, podcast fans will “follow” their favorite shows.
This change to Apple Podcasts will roll out with the release of iOS 14.5. However, the next iOS update beta, where users can currently see the change, is currently available.
It may seem like semantics, but it’s actually a pretty important update. Edison Research, a market analysis firm, found that 47 percent of people who don’t listen to podcasts thought it cost money to “subscribe” to podcasts. In a , senior vice president of Edison Research Tom Webster stressed that the reason for this is because of the word “subscribe.”
That’s a huge problem if nearly half of the people surveyed associate “subscribe” with paid subscriptions. How many people would have been listening to podcasts over the years if they knew it was free to do so?
Apple has long been the leader in podcasting platforms with iTunes then its Apple Podcasts app. However, competition really started to heat up when music streaming Spotify entered the podcasting world. The company signed well-known podcasters, like , to agreements that made their shows exclusive to Spotify.
Interestingly, Spotify already uses the word “follow” to describe the feature that adds your favorite podcasts to your playlist. The company has also previously the idea of a paid podcast subscription offering, which would be separate from its Spotify Premium paid music subscription service.
As PodNews points out, other major podcasting platforms such as Stitcher, Amazon Music, and Audible all use “follow” instead of “subscribe.”
After Apple officially makes the switch to “follow,” it seems YouTube and Google Podcasts will remain as the final giants in the podcasting industry to keep the “subscribe” button. Will Google eventually make the changes on those platforms too?
Although “subscribe” has become almost synonymous with YouTube (read this without hearing your favorite YouTube creators voice asking you subscribe to their channel), the company offers so many different paid subscriptions — YouTube Premium, YouTube TV, YouTube Music, paid memberships for specific YouTube channels — that it’s hard to imagine it hasn’t been confusing for at least some users.
It’s clear that Apple’s made the decision to switch to end the confusion on its platform.