Apple Planning Premium Podcast Subscription to Rival Spotify

Apple podcast subscription

Photo Credit: Austin Distel

Apple isn’t going to let Spotify dominate the podcast streaming space for long. A new Apple podcast subscription service is coming.

Apple is discussing launching a podcast subscription service to rival Spotify, SiriusXM, and Amazon, according to details bubbling this week. Spotify spent most of 2019/2020 buying podcasting companies to flesh out its exclusive portfolio. But both Apple and Amazon have wisened up and started their own podcast acquisitions. Here’s a peek at where the podcasting landscape sits today.

Back in February of 2019, Spotify spent $343 million to acquire two podcasting firms. The first is Anchor, a distribution software company. The second is Gimlet Media. In April 2019, it bought Parcast, another podcast network, for $55 million.

A year later in February 2020, Spotify spent upwards of $200 million to acquire The Ringer podcast network. In November 2020, it spent $235 million acquiring Megaphone, another podcast technology company.

Spotify may have kicked off the podcast network buying spree, but Apple and Amazon soon joined in.

On December 30th, Digital Music News reported that Amazon closed a deal to acquire the Wondery podcast network for an undisclosed sum. Apple was reportedly in acquisition talks with Wondery before the Amazon deal was announced. The Apple/Wondery deal was estimated to be worth $200 to $300, according to insider reporting.

In September of 2020, we got our first look at how Apple’s podcast strategy is evolving. Apple acquired Scout FM, a service to create streaming radio stations from podcast content. The service could be directly integrated with CarPlay to create podcast radio stations based on interests, like news, sports, or talk shows.

Apple is also developing original podcasts that tie into its Apple TV+ service. Apple is hoping to compete through acquisitions and developing its own exclusive podcasts. Both Spotify and Apple are gearing up for stiff competition from Amazon – Audible is a dominant force in the spoken word space.

Amazon is fleshing out its podcasting strategy with Audible Originals. These exclusive shows are only available to Audible subscribers, though Amazon is experimenting with a new pricing scheme for its original content. Combined with its purchase of Wondery, Amazon could be looking to compete with a podcast subscription service, too.

Spoken word content growth is on the rise since 2014. Spoken word listening accounts for 26% of all listening by those aged 13+ in the U.S.

That’s a 3% rise compared to numbers from 2019. Podcast and audiobook listening both attained an all-time high-reach, with 55% of the U.S. population listening to at least one podcast. 54% of the U.S. population has listened to at least one audiobook. Mobile technology is the driving force behind spoken word content popularity, too. 30% of all smartphone listening is some form of spoken-word audio.