Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Apple to Bankroll Original Podcasts

Lucas Shaw and Mark Gurman (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple Inc. plans to fund original podcasts that would be exclusive to its audio service, according to people familiar with the matter, increasing its investment in the industry to keep competitors Spotify and Stitcher at bay.

Executives at the company have reached out to media companies and their representatives to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcasts, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the conversations are preliminary. Apple has yet to outline a clear strategy, but has said it plans to pursue the kind of deals it didn’t make before.

The introduction of Apple Music made the Music app worse for everyone not using it. This will likely have a bigger negative effect for podcasts, both because it messes up Apple’s incentives (for their apps and directory) and because it will make it harder for customers to get content in the apps that they want.

Marco Arment:

Unfortunately, this is both very likely and a lot less awesome.


Update (2019-07-17): See also: Hacker News.

Marco Arment:

I expect Apple to have as much success with exclusive podcasts as everyone else has.


Hypothetically speaking, would you take their money for a show if offered?

Marco Arment:

No, for the same reason it’s unwise for most people to do “podcasts” exclusive to one platform:

Most of my audience isn’t there and won’t move for me, the paywall/appwall would halt most audience growth, and any new audience I build won’t follow me off the platform if necessary.

Manton Reece:

Not sure where Apple is going with exclusive podcasts, but it’s probably nowhere good. By default I’m against any “podcast” that can’t play in multiple podcast apps because it erodes the openness of the ecosystem.

Zac Cichy:

I’ve kind of been arguing for Apple to go hard on owning its podcast platform for a really long time. The thing is, things have changed and it doesn’t matter what anyone says a podcast is. Market is maturing, and Apple should have done more years ago to hedge the inevitable.

It’s not a popular position around here, and I personally have zero incentive to argue this, but Apple should be trying to create a centralized podcast platform.

Every time Apple waits on something like this, a market moves on without them.

Jason Snell:

Given Apple’s deep pockets and its focus on services, I can’t see how the company wouldn’t at least investigate the possibility of adding original audio content to its portfolio, both to strengthen the pull of the Podcasts app and increase the value of one of its existing services or a forthcoming services bundle.

Update (2019-07-23): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2019-07-26): See also: Upgrade.

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

Really depends upon what they are doing. A bunch of radio like documentaries about bands would be pretty cool. The BBC has done that for years. I'd definitely listen to those if they were combined with music Apple has rights to.

If it's more "me too" tech or politics podcasts then that's far less compelling. Radio dramas like last year's Wolverine podcast that Disney did might be a bit more compelling.

Nowadays, it seems like Apple are willing to bankroll pretty much everything *except* quality apps for their platforms...

Niall O'Mara

Once in a while ai open my Music app to play my own god-damned legally downloaded and paid for music and I get a blank screen while Apple try to load up and advert for Apple Music subscriptions. After 25 years as an apple user / evangelist I get closer every time that blank screen................... advert is forced on me to abandoning the feckin platform than ever before. Luckily for Apple there isn't anything better at the moment.

Given that there are sooooooo many free high quality podcasts out there, and so very few hours in the day to listen to them all, I've never found even a sliver of a compelling reason to sign up for any of the paid services which offer podcasts (Stitcher, Luminary, etc). I was particularly turned off by Luminary because the ad that I heard for them said "it's free!" and then literally 30 seconds later it said something about signing up for a "monthly plan". WTF, either it's free or it's not.

All that is not monetized, shall be monetized.

I can easily envision the same thing happening to podcasts that happened to RSS feeds and purchasing DRM-free music on iTunes. That is to say, they still exist but all the attention and money is focused on locked-down alternatives controlled by big companies.

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