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Apple planning to make original podcasts promoting its TV shows

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in “The Morning Show.”
Reese Witherspoon, left, and Jennifer Aniston in “The Morning Show.”
(Hilary B Gayle / Apple)

Apple Inc. is discussing making original podcasts related to programs on its Apple TV+ video streaming service, another sign of the technology giant’s growing ambitions in entertainment, according to people familiar with the plans.

Apple sent out a request for pitches last summer, asking podcast producers to pitch ideas for audio programs with some connection to its shows, one of the people said. The company has since discussed making podcasts with producers of its original series, according to two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans weren’t final.

The audio shows would help market Apple’s growing slate of original programs, which have already picked up some accolades. “The Morning Show” earned three nominations at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards, and star Jennifer Aniston was named best actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. “Little America,” an anthology series released Jan. 17, has gotten rave reviews from critics.

Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., declined to comment.

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The plan speaks to Apple’s big bet on entertainment and media. After decades of making popular devices like the iPhone and iPad, Apple is investing billions in online services that generate additional sales from its existing customers. Services accounted for more than $12 billion in sales last quarter for Apple, but the hope is to get much more.

Apple released its first batch of TV series in November in conjunction with the debut of Apple TV+. The company plans to spend billions of dollars a year on original TV shows and movies, and has signed exclusive deals with Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón and Emmy-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Apple’s strategy is in many ways modeled after that of Netflix Inc., owner of the world’s most popular paid TV network. Netflix already produces podcasts that take viewers behind the scenes of shows, profiles its employees and spotlights prominent black members of the entertainment industry.

Podcasting is hardly a new business for Apple. The company is the dominant distributor of such programs in the U.S. and many international markets. More than half of all podcast listening happens in the company’s Podcasts app.

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But the company is under new pressure from Spotify, already Apple’s biggest competitor in paid music. Spotify has spent more than $400 million on podcasting companies over the past year, and it’s commissioning dozens of original podcasts exclusive to its service.

While Apple has transitioned from selling other companies’ movies and TV shows to produce its own, it has yet to do the same in podcasting. Apple has discussed funding original podcasts of its own, however, and these podcasts would be a step in that direction.


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