Apple says the changes it has planned to the Apple Podcast categories are now scheduled to go live later this summer, most likely next month. In preparation for that change the company is now encouraging show producers to begin updating the category selections of its existing shows. It has also begun allowing show producers to begin submitting new RSS feeds with the updated category values in Podcast Connect. But the process may not always be without some glitches. In an email to podcasters, the company does warn that in preparation for the switch, the podcast category menu may be temporarily removed in order to make the updates.
BluBrry says by its tally nearly 75% of podcasts will be impacted by the reworking of the Apple Podcast category list. “Chances are your podcast will be affected by the new Apple podcast category change coming this August,” it says in an update to users. Its analysis shows just how sweeping the change will be. “Apple will transition from 67 top and subcategories to 112. Every top-level category has been touched, either with the title being renamed or the addition or removal of sub-categories. Of the changes, 51% of the existing categories remain unchanged and 16% are renamed and the remaining 33% removed. There are nearly 70% more podcast categories,” the company’s blog post says.
The review says the most affected categories include Comedy, Education, Government & Organizations, Music, News & Politics, Sports & Recreation, Technology, and TV & Film. The categories of Comedy, Music, News & Politics and TV & Film now have 37 new subcategories to grow into. Apple Podcasts will now include several new top-level category names. Most notably, the list includes the addition of a designated True Crime category to capitalize on what’s arguably the medium’s hottest format. Dozens of other top-level categories are also being added, such as Fiction and History. Sports & Recreation is being recast and is now simply called Sports. Government & Organizations and Technology are being eliminated. “The most shocking subcategory to be eliminated was ‘Podcasting’ found under ‘Technology’ since there are nearly 10,000 shows found in that subcategory today,” BluBrry points out.
Using data from the Blubrry podcast directory—with over 700,000 podcasts—it determines that more than 130,000 shows have at least one required category change. Over 55% of shows that use a top-level category as their primary category now have new subcategories to pick from. And Blubrry also offers some comfort to others. “For podcasters worried about what will happen to your category listing on Apple podcasts, breathe easy: Apple will map removed subcategories to their top-level category. That means that if you do nothing and your category is affected, you will still, at the very least, be in a top-level category,” the company says.
In preparation for the new Apple Podcast categories, most hosting companies are announcing updates to their own systems to accommodate the addition of several new show categories. In a blog post directed at its users, Libsyn says its software is being update to fully support the additions and tells producers whose category hasn’t been impacted that their podcast will be automatically matched in the new lineup. But shows where the category has changed, deleted, or cannot be exactly matched in the new Apple Podcast list will need to be manually updated inside Libsyn.
Podbean has given a similar message to its users. “Apple will be rolling these out in the coming weeks. Therefore, Podbean has updated the available category options in the Podbean dashboard to reflect these changes,” it told its users in a blog post.
With more than 60% of listening done on Apple Podcasts, the company’s categories have to date amounted to the industry’s de facto standard. The last time Apple Podcast categories had such an overhaul was in 2011 and podcasters say it wasn’t as significant as what it has planned for next month.