Apple is reportedly planning to fund exclusive, original podcasts for its listening platform -- as competition around the potentially lucrative podcast industry heats up.
Citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that executives at the Cupertino, California-based Apple have begun reaching out to media companies to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcasts. According to the story, the company has yet to flesh out the details of its strategy, but will "pursue the kind of deals it didn’t make before."
Apple launched its Podcasts listening app for iPhone and iPad in 2012, but has until now played the mostly-neutral role of platform host in the podcast world. Investments in original content would reposition the company as a competitor in the rapidly-evolving podcast industry, where Apple Music rival Spotify has been beefing up its presence as of late.
Back in February, Spotify announced plans to spend up to $500 million on podcasting, and recently scored a multi-year partnership with Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, to produce podcast content. Spotify now owns podcasting firms Gimlet Media, Parcast and Anchor. And after acquiring Pandora, SiriusXM created the streaming platform’s first ever content team earlier this year -- tasked with creating original podcast content, among other initiatives.
Meanwhile, all three major record companies are now looking to develop podcasts in collaboration with artists.
The Apple news comes as the total number of Americans aged 12 or older who have listened to a podcast passes 50 percent for the first time, according to Edison Research's 2019 Infinite Dial survey. One-third of the United States population -- or 90 million listeners -- reported having listened to a podcast in the last month; that's 40 percent among American youths aged 12 to 24.
A representative for Apple declined to comment.