Podcasting is the last bastion of the open web.
DoggCatcher is probably like most other apps, simply searching the most comprehensive podcast directory—Apple’s.
Apple still allows subscribing directly to the RSS feed of a podcast that is not in its directory. In other words, if Apple refuses to list a show in its directory, you won’t be able to search for it in their app, but you’ll still be able to subscribe in their app and listen with the rss feed. I suspect this will continue to be the case. There are plenty of private podcasts that people want to be able to listen to in a podcast app but don’t list in the big directories. Some of them are even password protected (though I don’t know if Apple supports that, several other apps do).
Various companies have tried to move “beyond” the feed-based open-web roots of podcasting. Most recently and most dangerously, Spotify is attempting to co-opt podcasting to juice its library with listening material that it doesn’t have to pay for.
I’m not aware of the FLF plan to move out of actual podcasting into their own app, but it’s a terrible idea that has been tried numerous times and always failed. People want to be able to pull their listening all together in one place. That is part of why it has been hard for us to resist putting our shows on Spotify. We’ve had people request it because that’s where they listen now. (I’ve got a lot more thoughts on Spotify, but no time right now. At any rate, Spotify hasn’t succeeded in destroying podcasting yet. We’ll see if they succeed where other less-powerful companies have failed.) It’s just as bad an idea to force a whole bunch of shows together and not let people listen to the ones they want as it is to pull them all out of the open podcasting world and into their own app. Both are decisions at the expense of the listener for the sake of appearances (eg juiced download numbers). Nor does it help in the slightest with availability if Apple takes action. Apple has much more power over you if you are depending on your own custom app for distribution to iOS listeners.
I used to be subscribed to CrossPolitic, but unsubscribed when they started pushing a bunch of other shows on me that I wasn’t interested in. Of course, their download numbers quadrupled, and they made a big deal out of how fast they were growing. I was pretty disgusted when I saw them talking about how fast they were growing when most of it was obviously just a result of them stuffing their feed. I’m sure they were adding listeners prior to that decision, but I’m guessing most (and especially the best) of their shows has been hurt in overall listenership by their decision.