It’s hard to argue that Apple created the podcasting industry, and at the same time still dominate the landscape in a very big way. Today Apple announced the first big change to Podcasting since the Podcast app broke out of iTunes years ago – with Apple Podcast Subscriptions.

Kicking off in May, you’ll be able to sign up for premium subscriptions offering things like extra content, exclusive early access or even ad-free listening.

Apple already has a bunch of creators on board including NPR, the LA Times and more.

“Fifteen years ago, Apple took podcasts mainstream, offering creators a premier, open platform to inform, entertain, and inspire hundreds of millions of listeners around the world,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services.

“Today, Apple Podcasts is the best place for listeners to discover and enjoy millions of great shows, and we are proud to lead the next chapter of podcasting with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions. We’re excited to introduce this powerful new platform to creators around the world, and we can’t wait to hear what they make with it.”

Around the same time, the Podcast app will get a complete overhaul, with a new look, as well as better access to “channels” of content from creators which will allow Apple to recommend channels, both paid and free to all users.

That refresh will come in iOS 14.5 which is due to drop very soon.

It appears there will be new listener features, some of which sound like old features returning, like saving episodes, which are downloaded for later listening offline, and a new Smart Play button to help automatically start episodic shows from the latest episode, and serialised shows from the beginning rather than spoiling the ending with the most recent episode:)

In the end, the real question is, will people pay for Podcasts? Sure the biggest names, creating some of the most amazing content will potentially be able to monetise their content, but for the smaller independent producers, their audiences either won’t be large enough, or likely to pay to make it all worthwhile – thus, not helping to grow the base of Podcasting which really does make it such a unique form of media.

Meanwhile, you can subscribe to the EFTM Podcast at any time, as well as Two Blokes Talking Tech.