Apple to Fund Original, Exclusive Podcasts to Fend off Fierce Rivals

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Apple is planning on bankrolling original podcasts that would be exclusive to its own platforms, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Executives at the Cupertino tech giant have reportedly reached out to media companies and their representatives to discuss purchasing exclusive rights to podcasts, sources familiar with Apple’s plans told Bloomberg. The discussions are currently still in their “preliminary” phases, however.

While Bloomberg notes that Apple hasn’t yet outlined a “clear strategy” as far as exclusive podcasts go, a plan to start producing original and exclusive podcast content is pretty clearly part of the firm’s broader original content push.

The podcasts would presumably be exclusive to the Podcasts app, or possibly accessible via Apple Music. It’s unclear whether the exclusive podcasts would be paid or available for free.

Podcasts & Competitors

Like with the App Store, Apple essentially created the current podcasting market. Even before the Podcasts app was debuted, the company’s products and services — like iTunes and iPods — were integral to podcasting’s early development.

Apple Podcasts is still the clear market dominator, too. Industry executives estimate that Apple’s platform accounts for somewhere between 50 to 70 percent of listening for most shows.

But Apple’s podcast model has remained relatively unchanged in recent years. That, combined with new services like Spotify, may be worrying the Cupertino firm.

Spotify is already Apple Music’s biggest rival and the second-largest player in podcasting. It’s also made a strategic push into the podcasting market, including spending about $400 million in acquiring podcast firms.

In other words, an Apple podcast push is presumably a strategy to fend off Spotify and other large competitors. It could also be a way for Apple to make money off of its Podcasts platform, which it doesn’t do currently.

Shares of Spotify have tumbled around 3 percent after news of Apple’s podcast plans broke on Tuesday, according to Business Insider.

Apple’s Original Content Push

As the iPhone declines, Apple has been increasingly looking at other revenue streams — including Services, which is largely expected to become a significant growth driver for the company.

As part of Services, Apple is expanding the amount of exclusive and original content available only through its ecosystem. This year, the company teased its upcoming original content platforms like Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade.

Apple Music, the firm’s music streaming service, already makes use of original content, from exclusive albums to shows like Beats 1 Radio.

In addition to a possible original podcast endeavor, Apple has also made various updates to its Podcasts platform in recent years. Last year, Apple launched tools aimed at podcast makers. This year, it launched a web interface for podcasts and announced that the Podcasts app would be coming to macOS Catalina.

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