Hands up if you saw this coming: Apple is preparing to get into the original-podcasts game, challenging Spotify with “plans to fund original podcasts that would be exclusive to its audio service”. That’s according to Bloomberg, which reports that Apple has “reached out to media companies and their representatives to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcasts”.

It would mark a change in Apple’s podcasting strategy, since until now the company has focused purely on being a distributor of podcasts – initially via the iTunes Store and now via its Apple Podcasts apps.

Originals and exclusives are a key part of Spotify’s recent push into the podcasting market, though, so it is no surprise to see Apple following suit.

What happens next? We’ll await the first deals and commissions, but the news will certainly whet the appetite of independent podcasters and studios for trying to ignite bidding wars between Apple and Spotify.

We have seen arguments that podcast exclusives are bad for listeners, particularly those new to podcasts who may be confused by certain shows being limited to certain platforms. That said, research published this month by US radio firm Westwood One and research company Audience Insights suggested that podcast listeners are willing to flit between different apps: claiming that people who started listening within the last six months use 3.5 different podcast apps on average.

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