Reputable figures breaking down the global podcasts market are hard to come by, but there’s been a general consensus that Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes) has been the biggest platform by far; that the rest of the market is very fragmented; and that Spotify’s aggressive move into podcasts meant it was growing fast to finally become a competitor to Apple with real scale.
Now Midia Research has put out a report suggesting that it’s gone further than that. “Spotify is now firmly established as the most widely used podcast platform,” claimed the company. “In Q2 2020 42% of podcast listeners used Spotify, 10 points ahead of Apple in second place. This does not necessarily mean that it yet leads in terms of volume of listens, but it is the platform that the largest share of regular podcast listeners visit.”
Caveats? A few. The survey that led to this claim was conducted with 6,000 people in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, Germany and France, and 780 people in that survey were podcast listeners. A bigger study is needed to truly establish Spotify as the top podcast platform globally.
Another warning, which Midia does make very clear itself, is that we’re still in the early days of mainstream podcast adoption. “Just 14% of consumers listen to podcasts regularly,” was its finding. “This means that podcasts are at the ‘critical mass’ phase of adoption, where usage starts to move from early adopters towards the mainstream.”
Apple is stepping up its podcasts game in response to Spotify. Amazon Music has recently entered the market. Radio broadcasters (from the BBC in the UK to SiriusXM and iHeartRadio in the US) aren’t just leaving this market to the music streamers. Google Podcasts is surprisingly popular if Midia’s numbers are accurate. And collectively (if not individually) the smaller podcast apps (Acast, Overcast, Luminary etc) are still a decent share of the market too.
With so much room to grow, we should be wary of declaring winners and losers: Spotify overtaking Apple would be a spur for the competition to heat up, rather than a sign that it’s over. And with the future of music and podcasts seemingly intertwined at the listening level, the music industry is keeping a close eye on these shifting sands.