As Spotify’s catalog tops one million podcasts and Twitter buys Breaker, it’s clear that the podcasting wars are just heating up.
More than 155 million Americans have listened to a podcast in the past year, with 24% of listeners tuning in weekly. With broadcast TV views down and mobile phone usage up, it makes sense that podcasting is rising in popularity. As brands like Spotify and Apple Music invest in their podcast portfolios, Amazon joins the fray with a podcast acquisition of its own. The e-commerce behemoth recently purchased Wondery, a podcasting platform with an average of 20 million unique monthly listeners. The streaming service joins Amazon Music and marks the company’s largest podcasting purchase to date. Though the acquisition will include many of Wondery’s most popular podcasts, such as “Dirty John” and “Business Wars”, Amazon can use the purchase to develop and promote its own podcast series. Doing so could help Amazon level itself specifically against Spotify, which has invested $600 million since 2019 in a bid to become the “Netflix of podcasting”.
Overall streaming rates—for both audio and video—have increased during the Coronavirus pandemic as consumers turn to digital means for entertainment. Tech and entertainment brands are now vying for listenership as the podcasting industry grows more crowded with players like SiriusXM and Google trying to take a slice of the market, too. While Spotify has continued to innovate its offerings via video podcasts and audio news shows, Apple Music has also beefed up its bids by housing exclusive podcasts, like Ben & Jerry’s “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America”. With numerous brands making moves within the podcast industry, Amazon could face steep competition and potential turbulence as it looks to grow its own loyal following of listeners. However, the brand’s growing focus on Amazon Music and its plethora of available smart devices to stream from could help it boost listenership according to a Gartner report, as well as drive sales and increase time user’s spend on its devices and channels.
As Amazon welcomes Wondery into its portfolio of partners, the prominence of podcasting could just be getting started. As many of the top tech titans have already taken a slice of the podcasting industry, it could be only a matter of time before social media mavens like Facebook or Snapchat follow suit.