If you’ve ever tried playing a podcast episode that gave you the “unavailable” error message, you are not alone. The problem has been around for years.
Today we explore how to resolve the distressing glitch.
Why do some podcasts temporarily become unavailable?
Podcasts become temporarily unavailable due to both user and app-related issues. User issues include connectivity, account problems, and storage. App-related issues include a lack of updates to app software and podcast files.
What can you do if an episode becomes unavailable?
Apple Podcast app, Spotify, and Google Podcasts app, are among the most popular podcast players in the USA. These apps are used on desktops, tablets and phones. Here’s what you can do if you encounter the “unavailable” error message.
For Apple Podcast App
- Double tap the home button and swipe up on the Podcasts app to quit the app. Or, on iPhone X, hold the Podcasts app card until the red button appears. Tap it to quit.
- You can also try toggling Airplane Mode in the Settings app.
- If those don’t work, use the Search button in the bottom right to find the name of the podcast you want to listen to. Find the show and episode you want, tap it then play.
For Spotify App
- Do a quick reinstall, and if that fails, try a clean reinstall instead.
- If you’re using a virtual private network (VPN), it’s recommended you disconnect it because it is known to interfere with the app.
- Make sure your device has enough storage space. Spotify recommends that your device has at least 1GB of free memory!
- Make sure you’re not using any battery-saving or task-killing apps – they can interfere with Spotify’s cache.
- Do a soft reset. For most of the current smartphones, that means just selecting the restart button!
- Does your device have an SD card? Try these steps: uninstall the Spotify app, turn off your phone, then remove the SD card. Once that has been done, turn on the phone again (without the SD card), then finally reinstall the Spotify app.
- If these steps still give you the “unavailable” message, clear the Spotify app cache by following the steps for your iPhone, Android and desktop.
- If it seems the error message only happens on your account, try creating a new Spotify account. You can check the steps here about how to transfer your music collection from your current account to the new one. (If you are on Spotify Premium, you cancel your first account subscription, and then re-subscribe on your new account.)
For Google Podcast App
- Check if your mobile data or Wi-Fi network are on and that you have connectivity.
- Toggle airplane mode on/off.
- Delete old, unused files, especially the larger media files that use more of your internal storage. Check how much space is left under Settings > Device care > Storage. (Files by Google is useful to outline your storage space and clear junk files).
- If your podcasts are set to download automatically in the background, you may not have space for new episodes. Check for downloads under the Activity > Downloads tab. Delete old episodes. To toggle auto-downloading of new podcast episodes, go to Settings > Auto Downloading. You can also set a number of days to ‘Remove completed episodes’ and ‘Remove unfinished episodes’ automatically under Settings.
- You can also try this: go to the downloads section to remove the partially downloaded episode and redownload it. To remove a downloaded podcast episode, tap the three-dot menu icon, select the episode, and then tap the delete button.
- Double-check that you have the most updated version of the Google Podcasts app. Open the Play Store and search for the Google Podcasts app. If you see the “Update” button, tap it to update your current Google Podcast App, then check again if downloads are working.
- Here’s another tip you can try: clear the cache! Here are the steps to follow for any device.
- It’s also a good idea to check the battery or power management settings on your device, because some devices close unused apps and reduce background data usage. That could be killing the Google Podcasts app in the background.
- If nothing else works, try doing a clean reinstall (Same steps as for Spotify, but just do them for Google Podcast App.)
Why can’t I see all episodes of a podcast?
If you have trouble seeing your past podcast episodes or new ones, use these tips to solve the problem.
For Apple Podcast App
- Set the “Limit Episodes” option to OFF.
- If you stop listening to a show for a while, Apple Podcasts might pause your follow and the new episodes might not be updated. To continue getting new episodes, follow again. To follow a podcast again, browse or search for a show in the Apple Podcasts app, then click the show to see its information page. Next, click Follow. Now, new episodes will be automatically downloaded.
- You can also try using the “All Unplayed” view and then click on the Feed tab.
- Or even better: Try the “My Podcasts” view and click the Feed tab.
- If that doesn’t work, in the Apple Podcasts app, tap on Library and select Available Episodes. It will then make all the episodes of a podcast appear in the app for you.
- If that still does not work, try toggle the Airplane mode between on and off to try to re-fetch the shows you want
- And if that fails, try toggling your WiFi network if that’s what you’re connected to.
- And, of course, there’s always the option to simply restart your device!
For Spotify App
To find the latest episodes of your saved podcasts and shows, tap the Home icon, then the Notification icon.
Then, select Podcasts & Shows.
The “What’s New” section will show up to 100 of the latest episodes from your saved podcasts and shows.
If you can’t see all your latest shows, you can change the sort function on the podcast to go “oldest to newest” and then switch it back to “newest to oldest”.
You can also try deleting and reinstalling the Spotify app.
For Google Podcast App
- To get new podcasts, open the Google Podcasts app and swipe down on the screen.
- If that doesn’t work, check that you’re connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data.
- If that fails, clear your Google app’s cache and data, according to the make of your device.
Do podcasts typically become unavailable after some time?
In the Apple Podcast app, episodes are automatically deleted 24 hours after they’re played.
If you don’t want episodes to automatically delete, go to Settings, scroll down to Podcasts, then turn off “Remove Played Downloads”.
In Spotify, episodes can be in your “what’s new” list up to 60 days from their release date.
By default, Google Podcasts removes downloaded episodes:
- 24 hours after you finish them.
- 30 days after you download them.
To change these settings:
- On your Android phone or tablet, open the Google Podcasts app.
- At the bottom, tap Home.
- At the top right, tap your Profile picture or initial and then select Podcast settings.
- For completed episodes, tap “Remove completed episodes”and choose a time period.
- For unfinished episodes, tap “Remove unfinished episodes” and choose a time period.
Do some countries have limited access to podcasts?
Some content may be available in one country, but not in another.
Apple Podcasts App, for example, is available for free in over 170 countries and regions. Their website lists iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, HomePod and HomePod mini, CarPlay, iTunes on Windows, and other smart speakers and car systems as being compatible.
There’s also a long list of countries where Spotify is available. However, a closer look will reveal absent names like Iraq, North Korea, Iran and Cuba, among others.
If you have access to other podcasts but can’t seem to access another, then the one you were trying to play could be region-locked.
If you just can’t play any podcasts at all, it could be that the feature itself isn’t available in your region yet.
Although this can change with time, a lot depends on permissions from rights holders.
Why do some podcasts now play?
Sometimes a podcast app bug can be recognized and fixed by the App’s owners.
That’s what happened for listeners on iOS 14.6 in June 2021. The company took note of an issue that wasn’t allowing automatic downloads for new episodes to be completed in the background. Apple took the initiative to resolve the problem with a software update, along with enhancements to their app Library.
If you had been one of those listeners, you would have seen an automatic improvement in your Apple Podcast App downloads.
So without making any changes on their end, those listeners would see podcasts being downloaded.