Apple essentially gave birth to podcasting as a format. But as the appetite for audio shows has increased, Apple Podcasts has faced increasingly fierce competition for both listeners and podcasters. Being an iPhone user's de facto podcast app is no longer enough.
To keep up in the podcast race, the company is adding new tools for podcasters to compete with Spotify, its primary rival. Starting in April, podcasters using Apple Podcasts will be able to track their audience analytics and access promotional tools for podcast subscriptions, the company announced on Tuesday.
The features will allow podcasters to see audience metrics, such as followers per show, followers across all shows and new followers gained over a certain period of time, ranging from the past week to all-time follower gain. Podcasters can also see the total amount of hours users listened to their podcasts, and the ratio of listeners following versus not following their accounts.
In addition, Apple is adding a feature that allows some users to "request direct guidance" from the company's podcast team to "help jump start their subscriptions," the company said in its announcement. This feature will only be available to podcasters that are part of the Apple Podcasters Program, which allows users to sell subscriptions to their podcasts, offer ad-free listening and other features for an annual fee of around $20.
Apple is bolstering its tools to compete with Spotify as the latter continues to invest heavily in podcasting through continued acquisitions of digital audio companies. Shortly after Spotify shut down its own in-house podcast studio in January, it snatched up both Podsights, a podcast advertising measurement service, and Chartable, a podcast analytics platform, for an undisclosed sum. Last April, Spotify announced its own podcast subscriptions feature a week after Apple launched its subscription platform.
In late October, Spotify reportedly became the top podcast platform among U.S. listeners, surpassing Apple Podcasts. The new tools show Apple is ready to try to regain the podcast crown.