Apple has officially detailed plans for two projects called The Line – one a six-part podcast, the other a four-part Apple TV+ documentary – and both the works will “offer a unique perspective on previously untold aspects of the story of US Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.”
The Cupertino-headquartered company specified its vision for The Line in a formal release this morning. According to the announcement message, Apple Podcast users can already access the audio series, featuring host (and executive producer) Dan Taberski, who previously partnered with Stitcher on Missing Richard Simmons. Moreover, Apple has tapped Jigsaw Productions to produce the podcast as well as the documentary.
Encompassing one-on-one discussions with Eddie Gallagher and “extraordinary access to over 50 current and former special operators,” the podcast will give “listeners an inside understanding of the psychological toll on service members embroiled in ceaseless warfare, the secretive culture of the military’s most elite special operations units, and the struggle for justice in the fog of war,” according to the announcement message.
The Line documentary, for its part, will premiere sometime in fall of this year, though Apple hasn’t yet specified a precise debut date. And while it’s also unclear whether the joint podcast-documentary release represents a once-off test or a broader cross-promotion strategy, for Apple, audio-entertainment programs appear decidedly well-suited for drumming up interest in television shows, films, and other visual media.
Building upon the point, music streaming platforms including Amazon Music, Spotify, and Apple Music are hardly without high-profile shows and podcasters. Evidence suggests that Stockholm-based Spotify has invested the most in podcasts of the listed companies, including dropping $235 million on Megaphone, a reported $100 million to become the official home of The Joe Rogan Experience, and an undoubtedly substantial sum to secure the exclusive rights to Renegades: Born in the USA from Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.
Nevertheless, podcast listenership as a portion of total users has remained relatively low for the leading music streaming service, with just 25 percent of its 345 million MAUs having “interacted” with – not necessarily listened to the entirety of – programs as of Q4 2020.
But rolling out podcasts in support of pre-planned shows and films could prove commercially valuable, particularly with regard to big-budget documentaries and biopics. Plus, podcasts come with the added bonus of being comparatively inexpensive to create; Apple and Amazon reportedly spent $25 million apiece on Billie Eilish and Rihanna documentaries, respectively.
Worth noting on this front is that fan interest in music documentaries appears strong, as Tina attracted an impressive 1.1 million watchers upon arriving on HBO late last month. Separately, documentaries centering on Abbey Road Studios and Jeff Buckley are also in the works.