Sources told Bloomberg that the move aims to “keep competitors Spotify and Stitcher at bay” via the funding of specific podcasts from media companies, as well as through exclusive deals. Executives at the company have already reportedly contacted media companies and their representatives to discuss acquiring exclusive rights to podcasts.
Apple’s Podcast apps on iPhones and iPads make up between 50-70 percent of most podcasts’ listeners.
This latest move follows last year’s launch of Podcast Analytics, which gives podcast makers more insight into their listeners and performance. In addition, the tech giant announced a dedicated Podcasts app for Mac computers, as well as a web interface to increase the amount of people who can listen to podcasts through its service.
Apple also put executive Oliver Schusser in charge of podcasts and music, with Ben Cave helping to oversee the division’s strategy.
“You are nowhere in podcasting if you don’t have shows listed in Apple podcasts,” said Lex Friedman, the chief revenue officer of Art19, which provides services to podcast producers. He added that due to the recent activity by its competition, “it would surprise me if Apple didn’t do anything with exclusives.”
Apple’s chief rival, Spotify, is responsible for 10-20 percent of all podcast listeners, and it has already spent about $400 million to acquire podcast companies. It’s also funded original shows from comedian Amy Schumer, journalist Jemele Hill and hip-hop artist Joe Budden, and it recently announced a deal to host podcasts from a company founded by former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.
The recent news about Apple sent Spotify’s shares down as much as 2.7 percent to $150.09 on Tuesday (July 16), which is the company’s biggest intraday loss in three weeks.