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Apple is making it easier to distribute subscription podcasts

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Plus, the next iOS update will keep podcast downloads from devouring your storage

Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

Apple is making it easier for podcasters to get their subscription shows onto its platform. Creators on select podcast distribution platforms like Acast and Libsyn will soon be able to automatically upload their premium shows onto the Apple Podcasts app instead of having to publish it episode by episode through Apple’s platform.

Currently, those who offer subscription shows through the Apple Podcasters Program need to publish episodes through Apple Podcast Connect. The company says that its new Delegated Delivery system will allow creators to skip that extra step and publish shows on Apple directly from their host’s dashboard. In addition to Acast and Libsyn, the initial group of partner hosts includes Buzzsprout, Omny Studio, RSS.com, Blubrry, and ART19. The feature is supposed to launch “this fall.”

The new distribution feature will also apply to free shows, which are distributed by RSS feed. Even with the new distribution system, podcasters offering subscriptions will still need to pay for the Apple Podcasters Program, which costs $19.99 per year.

Apple Podcasts spokesperson Zach Kahn said that the new feature is not intended to compete with Spotify’s Anchor, which allows creators to host and distribute subscription shows directly onto Spotify. The intent, he said, is to create a more open podcasting ecosystem so open that Anchor and Megaphone, also owned by Spotify, could become Delegated Delivery partners if the company chose to do so. Spotify did not respond to request for comment on whether it would.

Spotify already has its own partner hosts that have streamlined publishing for subscription shows through its Open Access program, including Supercast, glow.fm (which is owned by Libsyn), and Apple partner Acast. (Note: Vox Media is also a partner in Spotify’s Open Access program).

Apple announced a new feature for podcast listeners as well. A new software update for iPhones, iPads, and Macs will allow users to specify how many podcast episodes they want to keep downloaded in the app for offline listening, with options like “five latest episodes” or those published in the “last 14 days.” Older episodes that weren’t manually downloaded will be automatically removed. The new downloads configuration potentially solves a big annoyance for heavy podcast listeners who can quickly rack up downloads that eat their device’s storage.