Apple has been in the streaming wars for just over three years now, and it appears to be gearing up for another offensive with a host of new content for Apple TV+. But it’s laying the groundwork in the realm of podcasts first.
Cupertino is reportedly upping its investments in original podcasts through a deal with Futuro Studios, makers of Smoothwhich will provide the study with development and production funding, Bloomberg Bloomberg reports, citing unnamed people familiar with the arrangement.
Bloomberg’s sources say Apple has already spent $10 million on this effort, which is intended to give the company the first opportunity to make TV and film adaptations of popular podcasts.
A number of high-profile podcasts have been turned into streaming shows lately, including ABC’s The Dropout, about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, which got picked up by Hulu. Apple itself also picked up the dramatization of the WeCrashed podcast, about the founder of WeWork, for Apple TV+.
It’s also made other investments in podcasts; In June, it debuted an eight-part series about the Unabomber in partnership with Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios. Earlier this year, it teamed with Campside Media for Run, Bambi, RunRun, Bambi, Run.
Apple’s music-streaming rival Spotify, meanwhile, has made major investments in podcasting.
Apple has already demonstrated an interest in loading Apple TV+ up with original content like ted lasso, and recently made major investments into scoring exclusive streaming rights for all of Major League Soccer in 2023. Apple hasn’t revealed subscriber numbers, but Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi estimates 20-40 million paying Apple TV+ subscribers, Barron’s reports. That figure doesn’t include those who are using the service for free with new Apple devices or the promotions that have come for T-Mobile customers, LG TV owners and even PS5 owners.
Continuing to load up Apple TV+ with desirable content may be Apple’s route to converting the many free users into paying customers once all the year-long trials run out.