As Spotify becomes the top dog of podcast directories, Google lags behind

Recent data by Buzzsprout shows that Spotify is the new king of podcast directories.

Just over a third (31.7%) of all podcast listeners used Spotify to access their favorite shows, representing nearly 25 million downloads in August 2021.

Behind Spotify is Apple Podcasts, the default podcasting app on all iOS devices. Apple captured 21.1 million downloads for August 2021, with 26.9% market share.

Google Podcasts trails the competition, with a 2.9% share of downloads, or around 2.2 million. It should be noted that Google Podcasts comes pre-installed on many Android devices, and is even suggested as the default podcast listening app.

Not far behind Google Podcasts is Castbox, a directory that also produces its own podcasts, with 2,258,895 downloads. There is only a difference of 32,176 downloads between Google Podcasts and Castbox.

These results could suggest that investments by Spotify and other competitors in the world of podcasts, which have involved several acquisitions and huge payments to content creators, are paying off. It could also mean that Google didn’t draw attention to its podcast app, which was RELAUNCH in 2018.

Before that, Google added a podcast directory to search in 2016. It then added podcasts to its music streaming service, Google Play Music, later that year. Google then integrated Google Play Music into its new YouTube Music service which was spear two years later, in 2018. However, YouTube Music does not offer podcasts.

Ari Lightman, a professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, believes competitors were able to grow market share faster than Google because podcasting was a natural extension of services, like Spotify.

“Spotify, as a streaming media platform, had a logical extension into the podcast market and was able to acquire podcast providers and supporting apps including Gimlet, Anchor, Parcast, The Ringer, and now, Megaphone , giving them a complete ecosystem around podcast delivery and monetization,” he said. “With their experience building communities and recommendations around streaming content, it gives them that extra differentiation. Google was a slow mover in the space and many of their users found other apps to give them access to podcasts.

Sharon Taylor, chief executive of Triton Digital, said it comes down to different business priorities between the companies.

“All of Spotify’s business is dedicated to audio, which means they’re focused on growing podcast users in their already popular audio app,” she said. “Google has very isolated business units and has historically hedged its bets on all of them – which is why it took them so long to shut down Google Play and make Google Podcasts the only way to consume shows. Google’s business is in search and we’re starting to see increases in podcast consumption from there.”

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