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These Apple Podcasts bugs may affect your podcast downloads

August 12, 2021


Melissa Guller


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In April 2021, Apple announced the release of Paid Subscriptions, which allows hosts to decide if they’d like to have a free, paid, or partially paid podcast.

But logistically, a change that large meant that Apple had to rebuild a lot of their back-end technology around the entire podcast app. And as a result, this summer we’ve seen a few significant bugs and updates worth reading about.

In this post, my goal is to briefly walk through the current bugs that might be affecting your podcast so that you can stay informed.

But to get ahead of this question, there’s no action you need to take. It’s just helpful to know when some things are beyond our control.

Global bug affecting podcast downloads

There’s a known global bug affecting Apple downloads that started in July, and it’s carrying into August.

Podtrac has highlighted how a known Apple Podcasts bug affected US podcast traffic last month – reporting a 31% drop in downloads from the app.

The problem is that a bug in iOS 14.6 prevented automatic downloads from completing in the background for some listeners. (So they may not have been notified about new eps.)

As you can imagine, this missing automation could affect the number of people who even realize that you have a newly released episode. So the bug may indirectly lower your podcast downloads if your regulars don’t see your latest releases.

What should hosts do?

There’s no action to take with Apple, since this is a global issue. Instead, I’d recommend sharing your new episodes via your owned marketing channels, like email and social media.

What’s the status?

The bug has been fixed (allegedly), but August 2021 numbers may still be affected because people will need to update their iOS to start getting auto-downloads again.

Episodes can take 24 – 72 hours to appear

When you schedule any new episode in your podcast hosting platform, you choose a release date and time for that episode to go live in your RSS feed.

As an active host, you may know that each directory (like Apple or Spotify) keeps your RSS feed on file.

What you might not realize is that different directories crawl (i.e. look at) those feeds at different intervals. And the big issue with Apple’s recent update is that they now check RSS feeds for new episodes WAY less often. They say it’s every 12 hours, which means an episode you release at 5:00 AM may not show up until 5:00 PM.

What should hosts do?

I think most listeners know which day their favorite podcasts are released, but they don’t necessarily know the specific time.

That’s why I recommend scheduling your episodes for release very early in the morning. (Think 12:01 AM – 5:00 AM in your time zone.) That gives you the best opportunity to show up in Apple before most listeners’ daily podcast routines.

Additionally, if your podcast episodes regularly take more than 12 hours to publish, I’d recommend asking Apple’s support team. This issue doesn’t affect all podcasts equally, so I think it’s worth following up and seeing if they can help manually refresh your feed in their system.

What’s the status?

Apple hasn’t given a lot of info or clarity around plans to update their RSS check frequency. But they’ve certainly gotten a lot of complaints, so I’m hoping that they’ll take action to refresh podcasts more often.

In summary

If your episodes take more than 24 hours to publish in Apple – but you see them much more quickly in Spotify and other apps – then it’s worth getting in touch with Apple’s support team. (Although no guarantees.)

But for most of us, there’s no action to take. It’s helpful to know about these Apple bugs since there’s a good chance that your July and August downloads will be slightly lower than usual, and your content isn’t the cause. (Summer slowdown is a real phenomenon in podcasting and online business, too.)

So just keep producing your great content and we should hopefully see things start to go back up in the next few weeks.

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