PodSchool Podcast | How to choose the right rating for your podcast


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How to choose the right rating for your podcast

Do you rate your podcast explicit, clean or no rating?

If you’ve started podcasting you might have noticed a section in the back end of your podcast host that asks you to select a rating for your show.

Maybe you’ve sworn a bit or spoken about stuff that isn’t safe for kids.

So is that explicit or just a little rude?  And how do you know the right rating to choose?

Do you have to rate your podcast?

The short answer is no.

The rating system we have at the moment is actually a hangover from iTunes music and wasn’t designed specifically for podcasting.  So, it’s not a perfect fit.  

With television, there are clear guidelines around how things need to be rated but with podcasts, since the industry is technically still in its infancy, it’s a bit of a wild west when it comes to regulations.

Right now, Apple Podcasts is listener regulated which means if someone listens to your show and is offended they can click the ‘report a problem’ button.  Then the iTunes staff work out whether it should be taken down or not.

If you’re dropping the f-bomb every two seconds and talking about some grubby stuff you’re probably best to err on the side of caution but that doesn’t mean you need to label your whole podcast or even a whole episode ‘explicit.’  

What you want to do is make sure the content you’re dishing up is the content your audience is expecting, so sometimes a warning about swearing or ‘adult concepts’ is enough.

If you’re talking about topics that might be triggering for some people it’s also a good idea to let your listeners know and share details of a support line, like Lifeline.

But in terms of ratings, there are no rules that say you have to do it so just keep your audience in mind. 

Ideally, you want to avoid any situation where someone has assumed your content will be safe to listen to in front of kids and next minute they’re explaining to little Johnny what a d*ck is.

Should you swear on your podcast?


What happens when you label your podcast?

If you tag your entire podcast as explicit you’ll get a label next to your artwork telling people parental guidance is advised.  If you rate your show as clean you’ll get a ‘clean’ label.

You can also rate individual podcast episodes.  This will place the ‘clean’ or ‘explicit’ label next to that episode in Apple Podcasts.

How to write great episode titles for your podcast


So what should you label your podcast?

As a default, I usually leave my podcasts unrated. 

I also generally have an “s-words are fine, f-words get beeped” policy for all my shows even though I’m not in the habit of swearing in them anyway.

In my first independent podcast, Paul and Rach, we often spoke about adult content.  I would always bleep the swears but if there was an episode where we got into a subject that was a little more NSFW, I’d sometimes label it as explicit so the listener knew what they were in for.

The only label I think you have to really worry about is ‘clean.’  If you label your show clean you’re saying to someone “If you’ve got kids in the car there’ll be absolutely no problem playing this content.”

Because people have VERY different ideas of what ‘clean’ is I’d avoid using this label unless it’s children’s content or something so safe it’s impossible someone could be offended by it.  

I’m sure as the industry gets more attention and the money keeps flowing in, regulations and ratings will become a more important part of podcasting but for now, I’d err on the side of caution or reign in the potty mouth. 

Or let people know it’s coming so little Johnny is spared the unexpected life lesson.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.


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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!