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Persistent Problems with Apple Podcasts

I’m continuing to get reports — about a dozen now — from podcast creators experiencing problems with reliable publishing on the Apple Podcasts platform. To be sure, there has always been some sporadic wonkiness with the platform in the past, but there seemed to be a sharp uptick in bugs since the rollout of iOS 14.5 (which caused some new usability issues, as documented by Macrumors here) and an update to the Apple Podcast Connect portal late last month. And the volume of these problems doesn’t appear to be abating anytime soon.

Specific issues run the gamut: substantial lag times between submitting content and when that context actually appears in the directory; new episodes appearing only for those subscribed to the podcast feed but not for those casually browsing the listings; the occasional disappearing episode within broader catalog; and inconsistent submission loops, in which updates on some shows appear to kick in at different rates than others. All these issues are exacerbated by what’s been described to me as slow customer-support systems relative to other platforms.

This news blurb is a tricky one to write, because the podcast creators and publishers I’ve communicated with about this generally decline to be identified for fear of losing favor when it comes to future marketing opportunities on the Apple Podcasts front page. But you can find some public accounting of bugs out there, including this running tally by Justin Jackson, the co-founder of the podcast hosting and analytics company Transistor.

Still, I felt it’s important to flag this phenomenon even under these mostly anonymized circumstances — if you’re facing similar problems, I reckon it’s useful to know that other people dealing with it too. Furthermore, despite increasing platform competition from Spotify, the Apple Podcasts platform continues to be a crucial pillar of podcast distribution, and back-end problems like these, combined with what’s been described as relatively unresponsive customer support, make for potentially existential frictions for podcast creators and publishers who need to be reliable presence in the lives of listeners.

Apple declined to comment, by the way. In the meantime, I imagine creators should keep hassling the company through the Apple Podcasts Connect portal.