Apple announced today several new updates to its podcast creator tools, including, most notably, the addition of Subscription Analytics within Apple Podcasts Connect — the dashboard where podcasters track how their listeners engage with their shows. In addition, Apple says it’s expanding its Delegated Delivery offering, which allows creators to publish their subscriber episodes from other hosting providers. And it’s integrating its podcast analytics into the marketing platform Linkfire for easy access.
Podcast subscriptions were first launched on Apple Podcasts two years ago, and now there are thousands of shows offering subscriptions, says Apple, ranging from those produced by larger media organizations to those from independent creators. Given the pace of adoption, Apple realized creators needed better tools to understand their paying audience.
With the addition of Subscription Analytics, podcasters will gain access to a new dashboard where they can track their key metrics around subscriptions and how that part of their business is growing. This includes tracking things like which listeners started a free trial and which have become paid subscribers. However, all this data is anonymized as podcasters will only see numbers, not an individual’s personal info.
Creators will be able to track, over periods of time, how many trials were started and converted, and their conversion rates to paid subscriptions. They’ll be able to see a breakdown of their monthly and annual subscriptions, if both options are provided, and they can track the performance of their trial offers. Apple notes a third of subscribers now opt for an annual plan after their introduction last year.
As creators navigate all this data, they can filter modules to display real-time analytics for various time periods — like the past 30 days or the past month, for example.
There’s also a heat map that will show creators which countries subscribers come from, as well as a trends view to drill into metrics around active subscribers, the conversion rate, the number of subscriptions sold over time, sales and proceeds.
On the Trends tab, podcasters can also filter by Active Subscriptions to view a visual breakdown of subscribers by Subscription Status — like who are in their first year versus those who have been subscribed for more than one year. They also can view Subscription Events, like Activations, Cancellations and Renewals, and filter Sales by Subscription Duration to see the breakdown of estimated proceeds generated by monthly versus yearly subscriptions.
The new service is today becoming available at no cost to podcast creators with at least one active subscription and an Admin, Finance or Legal role in Apple Podcasts Connect.
In addition, these tools and others will become accessible through Linkfire, a marketing platform currently used by artists and labels, which has now expanded into podcasts.
Linkfire will be the first to offer integrated access to Apple Podcasts’ analytics and insights from its own dashboard.
Here, creators can measure engagement with Linkfire’s smart links and landing pages, including anonymized visits, click-throughs and click-through rates. Creators can also customize their Linkfire landing page to connect listeners with their Apple Podcasts shows, in addition to including links to other platforms, like other apps, social media, newsletters, merch stores, live events and more.
Like Apple, Linkfire respects user privacy by only offering aggregated and anonymized insights, while still making it possible to attribute performance to a specific channel, campaign or promotion, thanks to its use of smart links and landing pages. This lets podcasters track how well their promotions perform, including audio cross promotions, digital ads and subscription offers, among other things. Plus, creators can track whether a listener played an episode, followed a show, or subscribed via Apple Podcasts.
In addition, podcast creators who offer an Apple Podcasts Subscription and participate in the Apple Podcasts Affiliate Program can add their affiliate token to Linkfire’s links to measure the free trials, subscriptions, subscription revenue, and affiliate commissions generated using these links.
Linkfire for Podcasts is launching today but only in a limited beta with select creators and shows for the time being. It will become available globally this fall. Additional features, like the ability to customize link branding and invite collaborators, can be unlocked with a $9.99 per month subscription.
Alongside the new Subscription Analytics and Linkfire partnership, Apple also announced an expansion of Delegated Delivery, first introduced in January. This lets creators publish subscriber episodes directly from their hosting provider’s own dashboard.
Today, Delegated Delivery is offered by Blubrry, Libsyn, Triton Digital’s Omny Studio and RSS.com. Omny says that 50% of new subscription episodes are published to Apple Podcasts using Delegated Delivery, including those from BBC Studios.
Apple isn’t the only platform offering podcast subscriptions. Spotify introduced the option in early 2021, expanding globally by year-end. Patreon is also a popular platform for podcast subscriptions, allowing creators to earn an income from their shows outside of advertising alone.