How Apple Podcasts distributes your shows to listeners
There are two ways to distribute your shows to listeners through Apple Podcasts.
Publish your show to the Apple Podcasts catalog
After you’ve set up your show, you can submit it to Apple Podcasts to be included in the Apple Podcasts catalog. This makes the show available to users of the Apple Podcasts app in over 170 countries and regions as well as third-party podcasting services that reference the Apple Podcasts catalog.
Listeners can browse the Apple Podcasts catalog from the Search, Browse, Top Charts, and Listen Now on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, HomePod, CarPlay, iTunes on Windows, Amazon Alexa devices, and other smart speakers and car systems, or by asking Siri. From here, they can follow shows to automatically download and be notified of new episodes, play and save episodes to Library, and more. Podcasts available in the Apple Podcasts catalog are public, searchable, and shareable.
Submit to the catalog through Apple Podcasts Connect
You can submit your free or subscriber show to Apple Podcasts using Apple Podcasts Connect. Learn how to submit a show.
Submit to the catalog through your hosting provider
If your hosting provider supports subscriptions, you can also submit your free or subscriber show to Apple Podcasts from your hosting provider dashboard. Free episodes distributed using an RSS feed URL remain free and available everywhere, including Apple Podcasts. Subscriber episodes distributed using Apple Podcasts Subscriptions are DRM-protected and only available on Apple Podcasts. Many hosting providers that do not yet support subscriptions will provide instructions for how to add your free show using Apple Podcasts Connect.
Configure Availability in Apple Podcasts Connect
In Apple Podcasts Connect, navigate to Podcasts > Show > Availability to choose where you want your show to be available. New shows are made available in the Apple Podcasts app in all countries and regions, and to third-party podcasting services that reference the Apple Podcasts catalog, by default. If you choose to opt out of distribution through the Apple Podcasts catalog, your show will only be available on the Apple Podcasts app, not third-party podcasting services, unless you’ve submitted your show directly to their catalogs.
Podcasting services that use the Apple Podcasts catalog
Some popular third-party podcasting services that reference the Apple Podcasts catalog include:
- Analytics and measurement services, including Rephonic.
- Database services, including Podchaser.
- Industry media and resources, including Podnews.
- Linking services, including Podfollow and Plink.
- Podcast apps or “podcatchers,” including Overcast and Pocket Casts.
Developers of third-party podcasting services can add support for the Apple Podcasts catalog using the iTunes Search API.
Publish an RSS feed URL that listeners can add to their Libraries
When you publish a new podcast through your hosting provider, you will receive an RSS feed URL.
Types of RSS feed URLs
Podcasters typically publish their RSS feed URLs publicly using their hosting provider to facilitate discovery. They can choose to keep them private too, so that only people who have access to the RSS feed URL can access the podcast. Private RSS feed URLs can be personalized, so that each user has access to their own specific feed; password-protected, so that only users with the password can access the contents of the feed; and authenticated, so that only active paying subscribers can continue to access new content. Private, personalized, and password-protected feeds are encouraged for podcasts that only seek to reach a specific, qualified audience, such as employees within a company or members of an organization. When creating a private RSS feed, be sure to use the
<itunes:block> tag so the Apple Podcasts public directory cannot process it.
Within the Apple Podcasts app, listeners can input an RSS feed URL to add a show directly to their own Library. This means they will follow the show directly from the hosting provider, not the Apple Podcasts catalog, to automatically download and be notified of new episodes. Users who follow a show via RSS feed URL can play these episodes from their Library on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, CarPlay, HomePod, iTunes on Windows, and Amazon Alexa devices, and playback will sync across these devices. However, users will not be able to discover these shows or new episodes through personalized recommendations in Listen Now, editorially curated recommendations in Browse, Top Charts, Search, Siri, Spotlight Search on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, or other third-party services that reference the Apple Podcasts catalog. Shows followed via RSS feed URL are not eligible for editorial featuring in Apple Podcasts and will not display promotional artwork, ratings, reviews, subscriptions, or channels in a user’s Library or analytics in Apple Podcasts Analytics.
Follow a show via RSS feed URL
To follow a show via RSS feed URL in Apple Podcasts on iPhone or iPad, navigate to the Library tab, tap the More “...” menu, tap Follow a Show by URL..., then enter the RSS feed URL and tap Follow. On Mac, navigate to File in the Menu Bar, click Follow a Show by URL..., then enter the RSS feed URL and click Follow. Apple Podcasts remains the largest app worldwide to support following shows via RSS feed URLs. Learn more about what it means to follow on Apple Podcasts.