Apple Pursues Podcasts as Subjects for Streaming TV Series

Apple is making a big push for original podcasts that have the potential to be turned into shows for Apple TV+. The company has signed a deal with Futuro, producer of the criminal-justice podcast “Suave,” and has already spent about $10 million on the push, led by Apple TV Studios. Apple recently announced original podcasts with companies including Pineapple Street Studios, Campside Media, Jigsaw Productions and At Will Media. Apple TV+ has already adapted existing podcasts including Wondery’s “The Shrink Next Door” (starring Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell) and “WeCrashed” (with Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway).

“Apple has already financed Jigsaw’s ‘The Line,’ an award-winning podcast about Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, as well as Campside’s ‘Hooked,’ a nine-part series about an engineer who turns into a bank robber,” reports Bloomberg, explaining that “most of Apple’s in-house podcasts have been tied in one way or another to its TV shows.

The Verge summarizes original podcasts to result from the deal in recent months. So far, Apple hasn’t emphasized advertising on the original podcasts, Bloomberg says, noting “they’ve primarily served as marketing tools for a video series — or to gauge interest in the material.”

While Apple has yet to spend a fraction of what Amazon and Spotify have spent on podcasting — which Bloomberg says is more than $1 billion each, “acquiring companies and programming” — it calls Apple’s latest audio venture “a welcome sign for podcast producers seeking funding.”

Apple faces a tightening market where “radio networks such as iHeartMedia Inc. and Audacy Inc., which have been major financiers of original audio, have pulled back as their ad growth softens and stock prices slip,” Bloomberg writes.

Apple TV+ isn’t the only streamer interested in adapting podcasts for the screen: “Hulu’s ‘The Dropout’ was based on an ABC News podcast of the same name, and the streaming service is also reportedly adapting the podcast ‘Wind of Change’ into a TV show,” The Verge writes.

The strategy is cost effective, according to 9to5Mac, which writes that “audio podcasts are a relatively cheap testing ground for story development. Rather than spending tens of millions on an unproven concept for TV+ upfront, Apple can produce a dozen or more podcasts for the price of a single episode of high-end television.”