Spotify Focusing on Exclusives and Improved Discovery to Challenge Apple as Go-To Destination for Podcasts

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In July 2017, reports surfaced that Spotify had set its sights on Apple Podcasts and was planning a strong push into the space with a vastly reimagined podcasts segment that would become the default podcast listening app for many users. Today, The Verge has detailed Spotify's ongoing plans to make the service a premium podcast destination.


To start, Spotify intends to fix podcast discovery and prioritize the user experience by tweaking the algorithm that it uses for its streaming music Discover Weekly playlist. According to Spotify head of studio and video Courntey Holt, the team that built the discovery engine for music "is now working on podcasts."

Spotify also plans to create new and exclusive podcasts for the service, so that users have to subscribe to watch all of the latest and most popular shows. Outside of exclusives, Spotify is also planning timed exclusives that will go to other platforms after a set window and other release schedules with "a lot of experimentation," according to Gimlet Media co-founder Alex Blumberg.

Gimlet Media is a content creation company that Spotify acquired for $300 million last month, and is the home to notable big-name podcasts like Homecoming and Reply All. At the same time, Spotify also purchased Anchor, a company that offers a podcasting solution on the opposite end of the spectrum: letting users record and create their own shows that can be easily shared online.

According to Spotify CFO Barry McCarthy, "We're going to place a bet on both ends of the spectrum," because at this time the company isn't sure if user-generated shows or high-end original podcasts will be more popular. For both aspects, McCarthy said that he plans to use his time as Netflix's CFO to help bolster Spotify podcasts.
That means building "super good, predictive algorithms, like we developed at Netflix" so Spotify knows what people like, he said, then using those algorithms to figure out what kind of shows to make next. McCarthy calls this scenario "my nirvana."

McCarthy said that Spotify won't be an "arbiter of taste," like HBO, but instead, it will make its name optimizing content creation and greenlighting shows that are sure to succeed. "Over time, we have lots of exclusive content because we get super successful at predicting how much to spend and what to invest in because we're able to extract insights and data we've accumulated about our users' taste."
At this point, it's unclear how Spotify plans to monetize each podcast, and how this will factor into listener privacy. Back in 2016, monetization and user data privacy was one of the big complaints lobbed at Apple during a meeting between Apple executives and podcast creators.

The podcasters voiced frustration at their lack of ability to make money through subscription downloads, mainly due to insufficient access to data about their listeners. Although being more lenient about data privacy has the chance to improve the service, Apple has yet to make such a move in sacrificing user privacy for performance improvements that might benefit both podcast creators and listeners, similar to the methodology behind Siri and all other Apple services.

iTunes Podcasts was rebranded to Apple Podcasts nearly two years ago, the same year that Apple announced an overhauled Podcasts app with a richer user experience and listener analytics for creators. Toward the end of 2017, Apple acquired the podcast search startup Pop Up Archive to help improve searching and discovery in Apple Podcasts.

As of June 2018 Apple Podcasts hosts more than 18.5 million episodes of podcasts across 555,000 different shows.

Visit The Verge to read the full report on Spotify's future with podcasts: Spotify's Grand Plan for Podcasts is Taking Shape.

Article Link: Spotify Focusing on Exclusives and Improved Discovery to Challenge Apple as Go-To Destination for Podcasts
 

Classie

macrumors 6502
Nov 3, 2018
254
305
Sweden
If Apple manages to screw up the lead and dominance of the podcast world they are really stupid. It’s such a great platform that is heavily associated with Apple.
They need to step up their game and add features/solutions to the platform.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,574
4,005
Spotify's biggest issue has always been that they don't have every podcast that I listen to. I currently listen to 10 different podcasts. Only six of them are on Spotify.

There's never a question of whether a podcast is on Apple Podcasts. If a Podcast is anywhere, it's definitely there. That's far from given with Spotify. Biggest name that's missing from Spotify is probably The Orbital Mechanics Podcast, which I believe is the biggest podcast on the topic of space exploration.
 

Akrapovic

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2018
622
846
Scotland
If Podcasts become exclusives to Spotify then that isn't increased competition. That's locking things away behind walls that shouldn't exist in the podcast world.

And since I use Overcast like any sane person who likes good software, I wouldn't even consider using Spotify. "Here, use our worse app to get exclusive content that you now have to pay for, rather than get for free". Sounds wonderful.
 
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Akrapovic

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2018
622
846
Scotland
What doe overcast do better than the podcasts app?
I use the podcasts app daily and never realised there was an alternative.
Better, faster, more responsive UI. Much more customisation options (headphone control customisation for example). UI options (light, dark, black), Smart Playlists, smart streaming, massive amount of Shortcut/Siri Shortcut intergration, custom time skip/rewind buttons, Watch OS integration is great.

It’s free so give it a try.
 

mrongey

macrumors member
Aug 9, 2011
73
62
I would love to have some of the features of Overcast, but I have a very odd and completion-obsessive way of consuming back episodes of some shows while also keeping current on other shows that relies on being able to build a queue with episodes from multiple podcasts arranged in a custom order.
 

fredrik9

macrumors regular
Sep 30, 2018
156
114
Sweden
The Apple Podcast app is quite embarrassing so it really needs an overhaul in iOS 13. Hope it becomes reality.

Regarding Spotify's dive into the podcast space, I wonder how they will go about it. I think that perhaps the Spotify app will be too crowded with both podcasts and music. So maybe launch a new app called Spotify Podcasts to keep it simple? What do you all think? Do you want podcast functionality in the current app or in a specially dedicated one?
 

Zenithal

macrumors G3
Sep 10, 2009
9,246
10,240
Spotify's biggest issue has always been that they don't have every podcast that I listen to. I currently listen to 10 different podcasts. Only six of them are on Spotify.

There's never a question of whether a podcast is on Apple Podcasts. If a Podcast is anywhere, it's definitely there. That's far from given with Spotify. Biggest name that's missing from Spotify is probably The Orbital Mechanics Podcast, which I believe is the biggest podcast on the topic of space exploration.
They recently bought two or three podcast companies that people use to distribute and or host their podcasts. You may soon find your podcasts available on the platform.
 

nburwell

macrumors 601
May 6, 2008
4,649
1,643
DE
I use Overcast exclusively for managing and listening to podcasts. For me, I see Spotify as mostly a music streaming service, not really a podcast app as well. Just my $.02 cents. As a premium Spotify subscriber, I am curious to see where they end up taking podcasts.