The Podcast Feed Standard

All numbers are based on a sample of 212055 podcasts. The selection of tags was last updated in .

Apple's iTunes was one of the first and most popular platforms to find and listen to podcasts. Many other services adopted its feed requirements in order to make it easier for creators to submit their podcasts to their platforms. This turned the iTunes RSS Tags into the de facto standard for podcast feeds. Over the years, Apple has made changes to their podcast feed requirements. This has led to some older tags no longer being used by iTunes, but still being in use by other apps and services. Additionally the podcasting community has proposed and adopted extensions to enhance the listening experience.

The Core Podcast Standard

The core standard is a subset of RSS 2.0 and Apple iTunes Podcasts RSS Tags. This subset is mostly dictated by the requirements of iTunes. Some tags which aren't required or used by Apple are in such wide use that they should be provided by podcasts. The current requirements by Apple can be found in "A Podcaster's Guide to RSS". A description of all RSS 2.0 tags can be found in "RSS 2.0 Specification".

The percentage number for each tag shows how many feeds in the database use this tag. We only count valid usage of the tag, however the checks implemented are neither complete nor perfect. The percentage should be taken as an indication of the popularity and impoartance of the tag.

The "itunes:" prefix refers to the iTunes namespace "http://www.itunes.com/dtds/podcast-1.0.dtd".

Usage of all RSS 2.0 and iTunes Podcasts Tags can be found in the reports:

Channel Tags

The channel element contains general information about the podcast. It defines things such as the title and description of the podcast.

Tag Description Usage
title The title of the podcast.

Example:
<title>The Podcast</title>
100.0%
description A description of the podcast.

Example:
<description>A podcast about podcasts</description>
99.6%
image Link to the podcast's cover art.

Example:
<itunes:image href="https://example.com/podcast.jpg"></itunes:image>
99.5%
language The language of the podcast.
If applicable, should be given as a two letter code, optionally with a country code.

Example:
<language>en-us</language>
99.8%
itunes:category Category of the podcast. Must be one of the iTunes categories. The subcategory is defined by a nested itunes:category tag.

Example:
<itunes:category text="Technology">
    <itunes:category text="Gadgets" />
</itunes:category>
99.3%
itunes:author Author of the podcast.

Example:
<itunes:author>John Doe</itunes:author>
99.5%
link Link to the podcast's website.

Example:
<link>https://example.com</link>
98.6%
itunes:owner Owner of the podcast.
Must contain a itunes:name and itunes:email tag.

Example:
<itunes:owner>
    <itunes:name>John Doe</itunes:name>
    <itunes:email>john@example.com</itunes:email>
</itunes:owner>
83.1%
itunes:type Can be episodic or serial.
This determines how the episodes are ordered, default is episodic where the latest episode is on top.

Example:
<itunes:type>episodic</itunes:type>
87.1%
copyright The license of the podcast.

Example:
<copyright>CC BY-NC-SA 4.0</copyright>
91.9%
itunes:summary A short summary of the podcast.
This tag is no longer used by Apple Podcasts, but other indexers and apps still use this.

Example:
<itunes:summary>A podcast about podcasts</itunes:summary>
79.4%

Item Tags

The item element contains information about a single episode of the podcast. It defines things such as the title and description of the episode.

Tag Description Usage
title The title of the episode.

Example:
<title>Episode 1</title>
99.5%
enclosure Link to the audio file of the episode.
Must contain a url, length and type attribute.

Example:
<enclosure url="https://example.com/episode.mp3" length="123456789" type="audio/mpeg" />
98.9%
guid A unique identifier for the episode.
This can be a link to the episode, but doesn't have to be.
If this is not a permanent link, the isPermaLink attribute must be set to false.

Example:
<guid>https://example.com/episode</guid>
99.1%
pubDate The publication date of the episode.

Should be given in the RFC 2822 format.

Example:
<pubDate>Mon, 01 Jan 2000 00:00:00 GMT</pubDate>
99.3%
description A description of the episode.

Example:
<description>A podcast about podcasts</description>
96.9%
itunes:duration Duration of the episode.
Can be in seconds or in the format hh:mm:ss. Duration in seconds is recommended.

Example:
<itunes:duration>3600</itunes:duration>
97.8%
link Link to the episode's website.

Example:
<link>https://example.com/episode</link>
88.8%
itunes:image Link to the episode's cover art.

Example:
<itunes:image href="https://example.com/episode.jpg"></itunes:image>
83.1%
itunes:episodeType Type of the episode.
Can be full, trailer or bonus.

Example:
<itunes:episodeType>full</itunes:episodeType>
84.6%
itunes:summary A short summary of the episode.
This tag is no longer used by Apple Podcasts, but other indexers and apps still use this.

Example:
<itunes:summary>A podcast about podcasts</itunes:summary>
75.0%

Recommended Standards

The following tags are in wide use, but should not be assumed mandatory. Some tags fulfill a specific purpose, which is not applicable to all podcasts. Other tags allow for a more detailed description of the podcast or episode, but are not supported wide enough to be considered mandatory.

As a general rule, RSS 2.0 and Itunes tags should be used if they fulfill the purpose you want to achieve. If your data doesn't fit into these structures, take a look at the existing extensions.

This selection of tags is based on the usage of these tags in our dataset.

Recommended Channel Tags

Tag Description Usage
lastBuildDate The date when the feed was last updated.
This is used by podcast apps to determine if the feed has changed.

Example:
<lastBuildDate>Mon, 01 Jan 2000 00:00:00 GMT</lastBuildDate>
71.8%
generator The software used to generate the feed.
Example:
<generator>Podcast Generator</generator>
69.4%

Recommended Item Tag

Tag Description Usage
content:encoded Detailed description of the episode.
This can include HTML markup and is generally used to provide a shownotes, links to mentioned topics and additional information about the episode.

Example:
<content:encoded><!CDATA[<p>A podcast about podcasts</p>]]></content:encoded>
42.0%
itunes:season Season of the episode.
Must be a positive integer.

Example:
<itunes:season>1</itunes:season>
49.0%
itunes:episode Episode number. Must be a positive integer.

Example:
<itunes:episode>1</itunes:episode>
64.8%
itunes:subtitle Subtitle of the episode.
This tag is no longer used by Apple Podcasts, but other indexers and apps still use this.

Example:
<itunes:subtitle>My Episode</itunes:subtitle>
40.8%
itunes:author Author of the episode.
Example:
<itunes:author>John Doe</itunes:author>
53.0%
podcast:transcript A link to the transcript of the episode in a machine readable format (e.g VTT or SRT).
Example:
<podcast:transcript url="https://example.com/transcript.vtt" type="text/vtt" />
4.6%

Extensions

The podcasting community has proposed and adopted extensions to enhance the listening experience. These extensions are not supported by all podcast apps and services, but are in some use.

Podcast 2.0 Tags

PodcastIndex proposes a set of tags to enhance the discoverability of podcasts and episodes. The standard tries to provide a solution for problems which previously have been solved by multiple competeing standards. Only a subset of the proposed tags is in use by a small number of podcasts. Information about its usage can be found in the Podcast 2.0 Report report. For further information about the standard, see the RSS Namespace Extension for Podcasting (Tag Specification).

Simple Chapters Tags

Simple Chapters tag is an open standard for providing chapter information in podcasts. This information can be displayed in a podcast client, allowing listeners to easily navigate to specific sections of an episode and making it more discoverable by listeners.
Further information can be found at Podlove Simple Chapters

psc:chapters
1.1%