What Podcast Listeners Can Expect From Apple Podcast’s Latest Changes



Apple Podcasts is getting its first major update in years, sharpening its categories but causing a few headaches in the process.


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Some small but significant changes are happening in Apple’s podcast ecosystem. After years with a fairly static set of sorting categories, new classifications for these shows and series are finally emerging.

Here, we summarize some of the most major changes, the reasoning behind Apple’s update, and who will be impacted in the process.

If it’s just Apple who’s changing their podcast categories, who does that affect?

Yes, Apple Podcasts is only one of countless podcast players and platforms. But it is a significant one in the ecosystem, capturing anywhere at least 54% of the larger listening audience, and driving a major percentage of rankings, ratings, and discovery.

This means that anyone using the platform regularly searching for a broad category of podcasts, will be at a loss until this section of the app is fully updated.

What will these changes to podcast classifications include?

There are a number of changes on the docket, mostly rearrangement or de-coupling of existing subcategories. PodNews has aggregated the full list of changes, for those concerned with where their podcast may fall. Some of the biggest updates to the classification system include:

  • The addition of Fiction as a header category
  • The addition of True Crime (a hugely popular genre) as a header category
  • Medical podcasts have been moved out of “Science and Medicine,” and into “Health and Fitness”
  • Sports podcasts are no longer classified by level of play (Amateur/Professional/High School + College), and are now broken down by individual sport (fifteen new categories, plus Fantasy)

So the categories are inaccessible for the time being. Why does that matter?

It’s true that for most listeners, firmly entrenched in their existing podcast selections, an inability to reliably search by category may not make a huge difference. But a categorization system in flux means that chart placement and ratings are unavailable…and that affects creators. As Nick Quah pointed out in HotPod’s newsletter, a great deal of podcast advertising acquisition is based on popularity, at times measured by chart placement within a category.

So long as there’s no chart, there’s no placement…which means other metrics will be needed to determine the promise (or peril, as the case may be) of a prospective advertiser-podcaster partnership.

What should podcast listeners in search of new shows do in the meantime?

Although Apple Podcasts is the most dominant player in most markets, some formidable challenges are emerging to contest that dominance. Overcast recently unveiled an algorithmically powered recommendations engine, allowing you to find new shows based on the ones you currently enjoy. Swoot has added a social element to the often-solitary pursuit of podcast listening, making it easy to see what your friends are listening to and loving.

And Spotify’s considerable push into podcasting means that its discovery engine that’s worked so well for music, can also be applied to your new favorite shows. Apple’s return to fully functional search is on its way, but this outage could also afford you an opportunity to expand your listener horizons.

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