As Spotify Becomes The Top Dog In Podcast Directories, Google Lags Behind
Recent data from Buzzsprout shows Spotify is the new king of podcast directories.
A little more than third (31.7%) of all podcast listeners used Spotify to access their favorite shows, accounting for 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 lagged behind the competition, with a 2.9% share of downloads, roughly 2.2 million. It is worth noting that Google Podcasts is pre-installed on many Android devices, and is even suggested as a 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 32,176 difference in downloads between Google Podcasts and Castbox.
These results could suggest that Spotify and other competitors’ investments in the podcast world, which has involved several acquisitions and huge payouts to content creators, is paying off. It could also mean that Google has failed to draw attention to its podcast app, which was relaunched in 2018.
Before that, Google added a podcast directory to Search in 2016. It later added podcasts to its music streaming service, Google Play Music, later that year. Google went on to fold Google Play Music into its new YouTube Music service that was launched two years later, in 2018. However, YouTube Music does not offer podcasts.
Ari Lightman, professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, believes competitors were able to grow their market share faster than Google because podcasting was a natural extension to 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 applications including Gimlet, Anchor, Parcast, The Ringer, and now, Megaphone, giving them an entire ecosystem around podcast delivery and monetization,” he said. “With their experience in building community and recommendations around content streaming, it gives them further differentiation. Google was a slow entrant into the space and many of their users found other applications to provide them access to podcasts.”
Sharon Taylor, managing director at Triton Digital, said it comes down to different business priorities between the companies.
“Spotify’s entire business is dedicated to audio, which means they are laser-focused on increasing podcast users in their already popular audio app,” she said. “Google has very isolated business units and historically hedge their bets across 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.”