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Big Tech foray into podcasts

Big companies’ growing interest brings challenges and opportunities

[Editor’s note: A version of this article by Anton Protsiuk appeared in the latest edition of The Fix’s weekly newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest media news, opportunities, and insights every Monday.]

It’s no news that podcasting is a booming industry. 28% of Americans over 12 now listen to podcasts weekly (up 17% vs. 2020), and audiences are becoming more diverse.

This growth has piqued the interests of big technology companies over the past few years, as highlighted by new developments last week.

Facebook will start rolling out its podcast product this week. The platform will allow listeners to create and share short episode clips – a feature not widely available on other platforms. The Verge notes, “this update comes as the company begins a legitimate push into audio.” 

(But be careful – terms of service give Facebook pretty broad rights, including to create derivative works).

More from The Fix: What is your newsroom’s audio strategy

After a delay, Apple is finally rolling out the previously-announced subscription and channels product. According to the company, “listeners in more than 170 countries and regions can [now] purchase subscriptions for individual shows and groups of shows […] and unlock additional benefits such as ad-free listening and early access, directly on Apple Podcasts.”

(Meanwhile Spotify, already a podcast heavyweight, is pushing further into audio with Greenroom, a Clubhouse competitor, as well as a related content fund).

Growing big tech interest in podcasting is mostly good for the industry. New options for promotion and monetisation will likely appear. For example, publishers have yet to offer a decent membership model for podcasts (though there are some exceptions), and Apple’s innovations will be a major boost.

But podcast accessibility (built on the RSS standard and a reason for the medium’s popularity) might suffer with the rise of exclusive shows and paid subscriptions. These shifts in the market mean it’s probably time to think of your audio strategy – in case you don’t have one yet.

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Photo by Catalin Pop on Unsplash

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