Which would you be more willing to do: Follow a podcast, or Subscribe to a podcast? Research shows that 47 percent of potential listeners don’t “subscribe” to a podcast because they think there is a subscription fee, which in most cases is a false impression.
If you use Apple’s Podcasts app, you might notice a small change in the language used in the interface once iOS 14.5 goes live. While testing the beta, Podnews noticed that Apple quietly changed the “Subscribe” option to “Follow.”
So far, Apple has not mentioned the switch to content creators. While it may seem insignificant, it should result in more listeners for podcasters. The likely reason for the change is that the word “subscribe” tends to denote a fee is involved. The reality is that the vast majority of podcasts are paid for by advertising. Most do not charge a subscription fee, but the word subscribe is still used and has been for over 15 years.
“Nearly half of the yet-to-be converted cited a belief that podcasts cost money to listen to,” says podcaster and blogger Tom Webster citing a 2018 Edison Research study. “The reason they believe this (and still do) is simple: that troublesome word we use to describe the behavior we want from our audience—subscribe.”
Apple is not alone in changing its podcast verbiage. Spotify, Audible, Stitcher, and Amazon Music have all recently switched to using the word “follow.” Others, including Google Podcasts, Castbox, Overcast, and Castro, are still using “subscribe” regardless of whether there is a fee attached.