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What Apple Podcast Subscriptions means for Supporting Cast, Slate, and Our Podcasters

Apple has just announced that they’re launching premium subscription features for podcasters.  This is, needless to say, a big deal for the podcast industry. As part of Slate, one of the first podcasters to create, sell, and distribute premium audio content through podcast apps, we understand how intensely listeners value podcasts and how ready they are to pay for more content and a better listening experience. Apple is smart to finally offer this feature set.

So, you’re wondering, where does this leave Supporting Cast, our clients, Slate Plus, and other premium podcast membership offerings and platforms like Patreon? Our partners include a number of the podcasters that were part of the rollout, including Pushkin, Pinna, and others that haven’t yet been announced. What’s our role in the market if podcasters can sell subscriptions directly through the industry’s leading podcast app?

The short answer is that Supporting Cast is well positioned to continue our rapid growth. Our podcasters have added an average of 20,000 users per month to our platform since last summer.  With some upcoming launches we’re now working toward, we expect that figure will soon grow by a factor of five.

There are a few key reasons why a podcaster would work with Supporting Cast or build their own subscription offering instead of—or in addition to—working with Apple: 

  • Own the listener data. When you sell a subscription through Apple Podcasts, Apple owns the listeners’ data. It’s locked into their platform. Podcasters cannot take the data with them if they want to leave, or message their members through other channels. With Supporting Cast, your data is yours to keep, not ours or Apple’s.
  • Keep more revenue. When you sell a subscription through Apple Podcasts, Apple takes 30% of the first year of revenue, and 15% afterward. Supporting Cast’s pricing varies by context, but we would typically charge a fraction of what Apple takes.
  • Use any app. When a user makes a purchase through Apple, they can’t access premium content through any other podcast app. That might have been fine when more than 80% of listeners used Apple Podcasts, but today half of podcast listening happens through other apps. Apple Podcasts isn’t available on Android at all. Supporting Cast supports deep linking into more than 10 different apps, and can deliver private feeds to many others.
  • Publishing non-podcast content just for members. Many Supporting Cast clients offer more than podcasts — they publish text, images, and videos that can be accessed through their Supporting Cast site or other site. They push members to premium newsletter lists in Mailchimp and elsewhere. 
  • Flexible bundles and offers. With Supporting Cast, you can sell subscriptions or offer products for sale via one-time payment. You can offer multiple shows as part of a bundle, and mix and match plans, pricing, content, and offers with nearly infinite flexibility. We don’t yet know what constraints Apple will impose, but the options will likely be quite limited.
  • Podcaster support. Supporting Cast’s team has more than two dozen years of combined experience working on premium podcasts. We support our clients in critical ways that Apple will not, from content and promotional strategy to financing premium content creation.

The number one challenge we have in getting podcasters to consider working with Supporting Cast is simply that people aren’t used to the idea of a paid podcast. Apple’s push into premium content will help the industry understand how much revenue they are leaving on the table by not giving their listeners something to pay for. We’re already working with a number of their launch partners, and hoping we can soon bring the rest on board.

Hit us up to let us know what you think about the news, or to learn more about Supporting Cast!