In the time since we shared our December update on Apple and Spotify’s battle for podcast listeners in The State of the Podcast Universe Report, the fight between the two audio giants has continued to heat up during 2020’s first quarter.
While we won’t begin to fully understand the impact and correlation between the pandemic and these two podcast listening platforms until our Q2 report, Spotify did note that they began to see a change in behaviors on their platform in late February. In a letter to their shareholders about Q1, they said there was a significant decline in daily active users and consumption in places like Italy and Spain, but that “over the last few weeks, we’ve seen listening start to rebound, and in many markets, consumption has meaningfully recovered.” We assume Apple has seen similar ebbs and flows in podcast consumption, and if you’re interested in overall global podcast listening trends throughout the pandemic across the board, feel free to check out our report on the subject.
During Q1, Spotify continued full steam ahead with investments into the podcast segment. They launched 78 original and exclusive podcasts, acquired The Ringer (a sports network with many podcasts), developed a new podcast API, and officially reached 1 million podcasts on the platform. This number seems to be right in line with Apple, who, according to Podcast Industry Statistics, reached 1 million podcasts just about a week and half before Spotify announced it. Similar to what we reported at the end of 2019, Apple continues to stay pretty quiet on the podcast front. Over the last five months since the debut of Apple TV+, it would appear that they’re putting more eggs in that basket.
Spotify’s bold podcast moves and Apple’s apparent shift in focus seems to be paying off big for Spotify. Most notably in Q1, Spotify started taking claim of states in the US for the first time in the year since we’ve been tracking this battle. They also continued to claim quite a few countries, while Apple has bounced back to reclaim several countries and states as well.
As of March, in Q1 Spotify has claimed:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Central African Republic
As we mentioned in the introduction, this update is particularly interesting, as it looks like Spotify is finally starting to loosen Apple’s grip on the US (Land of the iPhone, if you will) podcast listeners. As of March, they have only held onto New Jersey, but they momentarily led in California and New York. We expect to see this, nearly literal, tug-of-war go on as Spotify continues to double down on their podcast efforts.