Apple, with a revitalized focus on services and original content, is apparently looking to invest in podcasts. Bloomberg today reports that the technology company is reaching out to media companies to discuss creating specific series exclusive to Apple Podcasts, the company's podcast listening app. Apple refused to comment on this story.
This is a complete reassessment of Apple and its place in the podcast ecosystem. The company has always played a neutral role in podcasting, one that everyone could upload podcasts RSS feed to Apple's app and distribute it through the platform. The company curates lists and highlights remarkable shows, but the picks were never Apple-funded. If what is said in this report, Apple will be in a place where it can be lured to the market and call out their own shows over the partner programs, as has already been done with shows like Carpool Karaoke.
The shift of business model is not necessarily unexpected, but it is monumental to the buzzy industry, moving over to siphoned listening platforms with specific content on each. Apple rival Spotify, for example, announced earlier this year that it plans to spend $ 500 million on podcast-related acquisitions. It bought two podcast networks ̵
Other platforms, like startup Luminary, have made exclusive, showing the entire business model. Luminary launched this spring with several big names from celebrities such as The Daily Show hosted by Trevor Noah, Girls creator Lena Dunham, and Queer Eye star Karamo Brown, who only available on the app. The idea is to encourage people to subscribe to Luminary for a monthly fee.
Apple moves, at least in part, toward exclusive exhibitions could fundamentally change the industry. Apple is where most podcast listeners find their shows – more than 50 percent of people listen through Apple Podcasts, according to Spotify-owned anchor last year. However, if Apple starts making allegiances on networks and specific performances, creators may be weakened to move toward exclusivity agreements themselves, as opposed to distributing their shows across all apps. Especially, Apple has not yet made money on podcasts. This can be a way to make money from that content, as it plans to do with Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade, and already likes Apple Music. As iPhone sales have dipped around the world, Apple has begun to move to a service-oriented model, and it was probably just a matter of time before it put its sights on podcasts.
Update 7/16, 3:17 ET: Updated to include that Apple refused to comment on this story.