[Update 2: Free 99-year subscription for existing desktop users] Pocket Casts makes its Android podcasts app free to download
Pocket Casts is one of the oldest and go-to podcast apps. Even though it is available on multiple platforms including web and has more than a million users on Android itself. Since its launch nine years ago, Pocket Casts had been available as a paid app but the company thinks that approach behind the one-time download fee is “antiquated” and this is why they are removing the price from the one-time download. With that change, the Android app is now available for download on the Google Play Store free of cost and will now run on a freemium model.
In place of the paid one-time download, Pocket Casts Plus is what the company has introduced as their new subscription service. While users can listen to podcasts for free, those who pay $0.99 a month or $10 a year for the paid service will get access to “more specialised services” such as 10GB of cloud storage for storing their own audio or video content, access to the Windows, Mac, or web apps, and the ability to change themes.
Pocket Casts imagines that the majority of their users will now comprise those who use the service for free. As per The Verge, Pocket Casts may soon come up with a monetization model to recover the revenue it has lost in the recent years of competition from free alternatives such as Google Podcasts. While we don’t see any ads on the free version for now, we may in the near future.
Apart from the new announcement, the Pocket Casts apps get episode search and the ease of listening to podcasts even without subscribing. These features are available in the free version and so are other features like cross-platform playback sync, adjustable playback speed, a dark mode, and more.
The new update appears to be an outcome of NPR and other radio houses teaming up last year to buy the podcasts app. Pocket Casts notes that the free service will be their “flagship” product. If you had been waiting for a deal on the app, you can now grab it for free from the Play Store.
Update: Free subscription for desktop app owners
Pocket Casts will be offering three years of complimentary Plus subscription to those who paid to buy the desktop apps. However, there’s no such reward for the users who purchased apps for Android or iOS.
Update 2: Lifetime subscription for paid desktop users
After backlash from users, those who’ve bought the desktop versions of the Pocket Casts app will get “lifetime” free access. In an official statement, the company noted, “No renewal, no monthly charge, no questions asked. This means Desktop App purchasers will also gain access to all of the Pocket Casts Plus features on their mobile devices.”
One of our readers points out that this is, in fact, 99-year-long subscription irrespective of how long you actually live.
Thanks to Akash Gupta for the tip.