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Apple’s rivalry with Spotify escalates as it begins funding exclusive podcasts

Published Jul 16th, 2019 10:57PM EDT
Apple vs Spotify
Image: Eric Risberg/AP/Shutterstock

Apple is reportedly planning to open up a whole new front on its ongoing content war with Spotify soon.

Spotify certainly got the jump on Apple with the launch of its music streaming service that’s now the dominant player in the space, with a paid subscriber base of 100 million as of April compared to 60 million for Apple Music which came late to the party. However, Apple has quickly built a solid base of paying users for its comparable streaming music service — and now, in the wake of Spotify not being shy at all about touting a massive investment into podcasts as a way to differentiate its offering, Apple is about to do the same.

Spotify’s stock quickly took a 3% hit on the back of a Bloomberg report released Tuesday afternoon that heralded a forthcoming move by Apple to start funding original podcasts that would be exclusive to the iPhone maker. On the surface, it would seem to be a direct move to steal a bit of thunder from podcast rivals like Stitcher but most especially Spotify, which had planned to spend some $500 million on acquiring podcasts in 2019 alone.

This move also would be yet another entry by Apple into the world of media creation, in tandem with the Apple TV+ service launching this fall that will include exclusive Apple-commissioned TV series.

As far as podcasts, it’s apparently still at an early enough stage that Apple actually doesn’t have a coherent strategy yet. Or at least one that’s been clearly outlined to Bloomberg’s sources. Nevertheless, word of this move rightfully shook Spotify’s share price, given that Apple and podcasts are closely aligned in many people’s minds — in fact, Apple’s podcast app still accounts for at least half of all podcasting listening, industry executives say.

Apple is already reaching out to media companies to get the ball rolling on buying up the rights to podcasts. Dave Zohrob, CEO of podcast analytics company Chartable, told CNBC Tuesday that Apple’s move “makes a lot of sense from a strategic perspective.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.