- Apple plans to expand its original podcasts and will hire an executive to oversee spending on exclusive shows, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the plans.
- The iPhone maker began acquiring audio spinoffs of movies and shows from its Apple TV+ streaming service, as well as original programs that could be adapted into future video content. The company on Nov. 1. launched Apple TV+ in an effort to expand its services business and lessen its dependence on the iPhone for revenue.
- Apple's new podcasting executive will report to Ben Cave, the company's head of podcasting, Bloomberg said. Cave has worked at the company since 2010, per his LinkedIn profile. Apple in December hired Zach Kahn from Vox Media to head public relations for its podcast business, Variety reported.
Apple's reported plans to expand its original podcast ambitions in an effort to back Apple TV+ carries a variety of implications for mobile marketers. The company doesn't run advertising on Apple TV+, which charges a subscription fee of $5 a month or $50 a year for ad-free viewing. However, the company does allow podcasters to insert their own ads or give host-read announcements for brands. Apple growing its lineup of podcasts could ultimately give mobile marketers more opportunities to sponsor programming in some way, most likely by working directly with Apple's podcast publishers.
The tech company in 2015 was awarded a patent for targeted personalized ads on podcasts, but it's not clear whether the company ever enforced the patent or used it to customize ads. It also closed its iAds App Network in 2016, but still sells advertising to developers in the App Store and lets publishers sell ads in its Apple News digital newsstand. Its privacy controls prevent advertisers from tracking readers for ad targeting and retargeting on other websites and apps, Ad Age reported.
The Apple podcast rumblings come as the company faces a growing rivalry with Spotify, the audio streaming platform whose global audience surged 31% in Q1 2020 from a year earlier. That rivalry is evident in several ways, including Spotify's lawsuit in Europe against Apple that alleges the iPhone maker unfairly restricts competitors with its control over the App Store — also a key focus for antitrust investigators in the U.S., Reuters reported.
Spotify is also rapidly expanding its library of exclusive podcasts to differentiate its service from rivals like Apple Music, and to appeal to listeners in the growing market for streamed audio content. Spotify this week signed a reported $100 million agreement with comedian Joe Rogan to carry his popular podcast on its audio streaming platform, an exclusive deal that will remove "The Joe Rogan Experience" from Apple Podcasts. The deal followed Spotify's acquisition of podcast producers including The Ringer, Gimlet Media and Parcast, along with the podcast production platform Anchor. Spotify's growing clout in the podcast market will challenge Apple to develop more original programming, including content that can be turned into Apple TV+ shows.
About 37% of U.S. adults listen to podcasts each month, according to Edison Research, though the coronavirus pandemic has suppressed listenership with fewer people consuming audio content while commuting to work. The podcast industry's ad revenue had been forecast to grow 21% to more than $1 billion by next year, per a study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The pandemic likely has slowed some ad growth for podcasts — along with many other media outlets — but the industry still has strong long-term potential as a mobile marketing channel.