Apple Expands Affiliate Program to Include Podcasts

Affiliates earn 50% of first month's subscription revenue

Along with the new Apple Podcasts app, Apple is expanding its affiliate program – Apple Services Performance Partner Program – to include podcasts. This addition to the program will allow podcast creators the ability to earn commissions when subscription purchases are made from affiliate links they share. Also, affiliate partners will get access to metrics about their linked podcast marketing activities like emails, social promotions and digital ads.

“This is in addition to any other payments you may receive directly from the sales of your premium content – it’s a simple way for you to maximize your income on Apple Podcasts,” says Apple on its Apple Podcasts for Creators page.

Affiliate commissions

Apple Podcast affiliate partners will receive a one-time commission of 50% of the first month for each subscription member in a 30-day “cookie window.” For example, if an affiliate partner directs a listener to purchase a subscription via their affiliate link, they’ll get half of that first month’s subscription fee. If the monthly fee is $8, the affiliate receives a one-time payment of $4.

How to sign up

People interested in signing up to be affiliate partners need to complete an application that is reviewed by Apple. Once approved, the affiliate receives a unique affiliate token consisting of alphanumeric characters that affiliates will include in all of their Apple Podcasts links. When a listener clicks on that link and becomes a paying subscriber in the next 30 days, the affiliate partner receives a one-time commission. The program is open to anyone, but Apple thinks it will most likely attract podcast publishers and creators, says TechCrunch.

The application is pretty simple, asking for basic contact information as well as which promotional strategy and methods the prospective affiliate uses (e.g., audio and podcasts, email marketing, web ads, paid search, SMS, paid social, etc.). This will help Apple determine if a particular applicant has the reach to make the affiliate program worthwhile.

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Apple Podcasts Subscriptions

Announced in April, Apple will launch their paid subscriptions for podcast shows and channels later this month. Podcast publishers and creators can offer free shows, freemium (free + subscription options), and paid (premium content). Podcast subscriptions offers ad-free listening, early access, access to archived episodes, and the ability to discover new channels.

Image courtesy of Apple

For paid subscriptions, podcast publishers and creators have a revenue share agreement with Apple. The publishers and creators receive 70% of the revenue, while Apple receives 30%. After a subscriber’s first year, 85% of their subscription fee goes to the publisher or creator, and 15% goes to Apple. Other podcast revenue such as ad revenue belong to the creator without a revenue share.

Insider Take

Though its affiliate program isn’t new, Apple wants podcast publishers, creators and others to grow their revenue base by adding podcasts to the mix. Of course, when the affiliate partners make money, so does Apple. The partners get only a small portion of the overall revenue generated from that link – half of the first month’s subscription fee. Something is better than nothing, but it seems as if Apple could be a little more generous, especially considering they had quarterly revenue of $89.6 billion for the quarter ended March 27, 2021, with $16.9 billion coming from Services from which affiliate revenue is paid.