Spotify Poised to Surpass Apple Podcasts in U.S. Listeners This Year

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Spotify has been making inroads in the podcasting market over the course of the last few years, ramping up its original podcast offerings and making major acquisitions like Gimlet Media, Parcast, and Anchor, as well as scoring key deals such as the rights to the popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

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Spotify’s efforts may be paying off, according to a new forecast shared today by eMarketer (via TechCrunch) that predicts Spotify could soon have more podcast listeners than Apple.

According to eMarketer’s estimates, 28.2 million people will listen to podcasts on Spotify at least monthly, while 28 million people will listen through Apple Podcasts. Though Apple has also made efforts to improve its podcast offerings, Apple Podcasts has been losing listener share.

In 2018, Apple Podcasts represented 34 percent of podcast listeners, a metric that will fall to 23.8 in 2021. Spotify’s rise in popularity can be attributed to Apple’s failure to match Spotify’s pace of investment and innovation in the podcasting space, according to eMarketer analyst Peter Vahle.

“By putting podcasts and music in one place, Spotify quickly became the convenient one-stop-shop for everything digital audio,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence Peter Vahle. “Apple was the de facto destination for podcasts for a long time, but in recent years, it has not kept up with Spotify’s pace of investment and innovation in podcast content and technology. Spotify’s investments have empowered podcast creators and advertisers through its proprietary hosting, creation, and monetization tools.”

Apple is working to counter Spotify’s deep investments in podcasting with its own original content. Apple recently debuted the first podcast based on “For All Mankind,” one of its Apple TV+ shows, and more TV-related content is expected to come out.

Rumors suggest that Apple is also working to purchase exclusive original podcasts for the Podcasts app, with those original podcasts also perhaps serving as inspiration for future television content.

As of November, Apple allows Apple Podcasts to be embedded on the web to increase visibility, and in January, Apple launched a new Podcasts Spotlight feature to highlight rising podcast creators. Apple is also said to be working on a podcast subscription service to better allow it to compete with Spotify by luring content creators with the promise of more money.

It’s worth noting that eMarketer’s analysis is based on estimated podcast listeners, and there is no concrete data available from Apple on the number of people in the United States who are listening to podcasts.

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