I was listening to the Freakonomics podcast recently and they talked about how odd it is that people can listen to it for free, yet a small portion of the listeners will still donate money. That was their way of reminding people that they need their financial support to help pay the bills. That is when two ideas came to mind about how Apple could provide Apple Pay options inside the Podcasts app, making it better for producers of podcasts, and the listeners.

Usually I listen to podcasts when I’m away from my laptop: in the car, out for a walk, or doing yard work. The problem is, when I’m listening to a podcast is when I’m thinking about donating. The gap between listening to a podcast and being at my laptop ( where it is easy to donate online ) means I forget about it more often than not.

For better or worse I listen to podcasts using the iOS built in Podcasts app ( which has definitely gotten worse, what is going on with this app? ). My suggestion is that the app include an Apple Pay powered “donate” button at the podcast and episode level. Donating via Apple Pay means that I could complete the transaction in just a few seconds, in some cases completing the donation while listening to the podcast. That dramatically reduces the amount of friction involved in the process.

There are several variations on how this could work. First up is the one time payment versus a monthly or yearly subscription. I’d also like to have a way to do very small donations, I’m thinking less than one dollar. Those would be used to do one time donations for my favorite episodes of a podcast, since even the best of them have some episodes that are better than others. To lessen the impact of these smaller transactions I’d setup a monthly tip jar budget. Apple Pay charges me $10 per month and then lets me apply that later for my per episode small donations.

The next level in this process is making it possible for podcast publishers to include pre-roll and post-roll content based on if the person has donated or not. The worst part of every NPR pledge drive is that even if you give them money, you still have to listen to the “please support us” messages for the rest of the week. With the Podcasts app Apple can make that problem go away. For those that have donated, instead of a five minute ask at the beginning of a podcast episode, publishers could include a 10 second thank you message for supporting them.

This makes the Podcasts app similar to the App Store that we know today. That comparison brings up the issue of the revenue split between Apple and the podcast publisher. Using the high end App Store split of 85 / 15 would be a good starting point. I’d like to see Apple be more aggressive with that split, giving even more to the podcast publishers.

Also like the App Store, this is another way to rank podcasts. You could drill down even further, ranking individual episodes.

What do you say Apple, can this make it into iOS 12 please?