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The Universe, According to Apple

New genres and subgenres coming to the platform.

A shiny new desktop app and enhanced discoverability features are not only improvements Apple is rolling out to the Apple Podcast experience. According to a quick announcement made during WWDC, it appears Cupertino is making adjustments to the way podcasts will be categorized on the platform as well.

You can find and sort through the new list on the official Podcast Connects Help page, but to briefly sum things up, the biggest changes will take the form of three new categories — namely Fiction, True Crime, and History, all major podcast genres that have flourished over the past few years — along with the notable addition of subcategories, which is where things really get fun.

The News section will now have a subgenre label dedicated to daily news podcasts, though you’ll have to find it sitting among Politics, Sports News, Tech News, and Entertainment News, which is an interesting choice. Elsewhere, the TV & Film category will now feature dedicated buckets for Aftershow and Film Reviews programming (which would make Rotten Tomatoes sortings of podcast film reviews somewhat easier, I imagine). Also intriguing: interviews will be a type of subgenre you’ll see replicated across different categories. (see Comedy Interviews and Film Interviews.)

What’s particularly interesting to me is how this reflects on influence flowing both ways between Apple and the podcast community. Apple, of course, is still understood to be dominant podcast distributing platform, and most relevant, in the sense of whatever they do mattering quite a bit in the day-to-day lives of podcast publishers. This is true, even as Spotify has continued to rise to become a plausible second option, or so we continue to believe. I can’t stress how noteworthy it is to have Apple officially integrate genres and subgenres that have organically emerged outside of its previous categorical bounds. It’s a satisfying form of validation for creators in those genres, sure, but it’s also materially impactful: not only will it be easier for listeners to find these well-established genres and subgenres than ever, it will also be easier for advertisers too.

At the same time, it feels like many of Apple’s new subcategories have the potential to seed certain forms of future podcast programming. I’m thinking, specifically, of something like “Music Commentary” and “Aviation”; the former being a podcast genre that’s begging for more competition, and the latter being a content genre that’s quite popular elsewhere but hasn’t really popped in this corner of the media ecosystem (as far as I can tell, anyway, but I am mere individual human).

It’s top-down decisions like these that can yield big impacts for forms like those. Indeed, it will certainly be exciting to see how the podcast ecosystem wraps itself around these new structures.