For years, Apple has been the forefront of podcasting. While ‘audioblogging’ had been around for a while, there’s an argument that it was Apple that really invented what we know as a podcast with the introduction of the iPod. Without doubt it was its innovations that sent it mainstream.
Can The Pioneer Make Podcasts?
The question now is, having been such a pioneer, and with its expansion into media and services, should Apple be looking to facilitate original audio content as it does for TV and film with AppleTV+? If so, would that be done via acquisitions, linked production companies, or both?
Following the announcement of Spotify’s acquisition of Bill Simonns’ The Ringer, Peter Kafka of Recode wrote:
I don’t think we’ll see many more of these acquisitions. That’s because I think most companies will conclude what Netflix, Apple, and Amazon have concluded (so far) as they build out their media businesses — they don’t need to buy companies when they can buy talent instead.
There’s a good point there. Apple largely focussed on hiring a lot of top TV talent as it built up and launched TV+, notably Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht. Because Spotify is, currently, a pure audio company, it makes more sense than the other firms Mr. Kafka named for them to buy firms to create original podcasts. Also, there aren’t that many more podcasting firms left to buy.
However, given Apple’s close association with the format, and its increasing focus on services and media, I really can see it making moves to produce original audio content. It already has Beats1 radio, so has some audio infrastructure, and obviously has all the distribution network it could need. It is also worth noting that Apple does plan to have an in-house production company for TV+. I imagine that if it were to move into original podcasts, it would be via hiring top talent, not buying a company.
How to Make Money
If so, the next issue would be, could Apple make money from original podcasts? There are no adverts on Apple TV+ because it is a subscription services, but that is not viable in podcasts, which have almost always exclusively been funded by adverts. (One slight exception is sports site The Athletic. It allows subscribers to listen to shows ad free via its app. However, there are still adverts if you listen on other platforms, but this model is a rarity.)
Again, I’m confident that via advertising, Apple could make some money. It could even just advertise its own products to make money from the shows indirectly on its own platform, whilst have traditional ads if you listen on others. Some shows could be made available via the much anticipated services ‘bundle’ that we expect. The point is, there are options.
Ultimately, there are a lot of opportunities for Apple to produce original podcasts. It would not surprise me at all if we see it do so in the not too distance future.