Apple ‘Podcasts+’ Is Coming This Year with Exclusive Content to Rival Spotify

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It looks like the next frontier for Apple’s burgeoning services business will be a paid Podcasts subscription, according to multiple new reports that suggest that Apple is preparing to monetize its podcasting business to compete with rivals like Spotify, SiriusXM, and Amazon.

We began hearing reports as far back as 2019 that Apple was working toward this goal, although back then most insiders suggested that it was in its very preliminary stages and the company had yet to work out a clear strategy as to how it would approach it. However, with the news coming right after Apple TV+, Apple News+, and Apple Arcade were announced, it really did feel like the next logical step.

After all, Apple basically invented the idea of Podcasts back in the days of the original iPod and iTunes — years before the iPhone even saw the first light of day — and while it still dominates the podcasting market, with over half of podcast audiences listening on Apple’s platform, rivals have been gradually chipping away at it over the past couple of years.

Notably, while podcasts were always welcome to monetize their podcasts via advertising and sponsorships, Apple’s Podcasts platform offered no monetary incentive for podcasters to publish on it except the ability to reach a potentially larger audience. This was all well and good in the days when every podcasting platform was open — publishers were free to simply publish on multiple services to reach as wide of an audience as possible — but as companies like Spotify have begun to delve more seriously into the world of podcasting, this has begun to create exclusive markets.

For example, Spotify can now offer a sweet deal for a popular podcaster to make their show available solely on its platform, helping to promote the podcast and sharing the revenue that comes from its base of Spotify subscribers.

This is something that Apple is unable to match with Apple Podcasts in its current form, but according to The Information, it’s planning to try wooing many of these podcasters back with the promise of more money — one area in which it already has a clear edge over everyone else.

A Sleeping Giant

It remains to be seen if Apple is already too late to the game; Spotify has already spent $800 million buying a collection of smaller podcasting companies and the rights to major names in podcasting, so Apple is going to have some catching up to do.

As The Information notes, however, Apple is already a “sleeping giant” in the podcasting space, and if it wakes up and decides to take a podcasting service seriously, there’s no doubt that it’s going to bring considerable force to bear.

However, one approach that Apple will likely take is to focus on funding its own Apple Original Podcasts. This would essentially bring to podcasts what Apple has already done for video streaming and subscription gaming. This could take many forms, and while one report suggested Apple TV+ tie-in podcasts, that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Instead, Apple could use its resources to actually become the production house behind major names in podcasting, so that rather than simply paying for the rights to a podcaster’s show, Apple would in effect become the publisher, providing resources such as equipment, studio facilities, post-production services, and marketing and promotion.

While The Information doesn’t provide any details on timing, Bloomberg has confirmed that Apple is actively working on bringing a subscription service to its podcasting business this year, which it says is “part of a broader push that has included funding new original programs.”

Bloomberg also notes that Apple’s new Apple One bundles would likely play a big role in Apple’s strategy, allowing the company to “add a significant number of users automatically by charging them little or nothing.”

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