In a move that feels as inevitable as death and taxes, Apple has made podcasts effectively streaming only. The same thing is likely to happen to all media, Podcasts just went first.
Until recently macOS iTunes and iOS Podcasts.app supported both file based sync, including Playlists, and streaming based distribution with an unreliable sync of podcast metadata.
With iOS 11 iTunes playlists are no longer represented in Podcasts.app. You can still create Playlists in iTunes made up of local files and/or cloud references, but they stay in iTunes. The Playlists were the main way I organized listening to my large collection of file-based In Our Time podcasts and my medical education podcasts. No more. I’m now dependent on the very limited (ok, crap) organization abilities of Podcasts.app.
Apple has long had problems with video that moved to an iPhone from both iCloud and iTunes. iBooks synchronization is a mess too if you mix non-Apple store ePub with streamed iBook.
This is ugly and going to get worse. We’re moving fast into the DRMd hard data-lock rental-only future.
Update: Many good threads on this in Apple Communities. They reminded me to leave feedback. Stations are not a substitute for playlist sync, but even on their own they are missing a key filter — limit to on-device items.