I like my 3rd party app (Overcast). I don’t want to have to use 3 podcast apps to listen to all my podcasts.
I think I agree with some of the podcast app developers: if it’s not available in any app it shouldn’t be called a ‘podcast’.
either everyone is getting advertisements for a very dallas targeted ad, or are the podcast companies making several versions of the podcast and serving different ones to different people? sounds like a lot of extra work to me, but I suppose its not hard to automate stitching a few ads into an audio file.
But most of the time the original file is getting pulled by the rehoster from an unprotected RSS feed, and these can be easy to find. You can get the RSS feeds for Soundcloud, as an example. Others are hosted on Libsyn.com, and you can often find them by searching for the podcast name and "site:libsyn.com" in the search engine of your choice.
That said, I don't listen to podcasts enough any more to say whether this is a universal solution at all. Actually, the fact that podcasts have unblockable ads is one of the main reasons I no longer bother.
I have a podcast with a podcasting network that sells our ads for us. To my knowledge, they don’t do any dynamic ad insertions for older episodes (though if they did, I wouldn’t necessarily be upset, provided they were inserted the right way), but plenty of podcasting networks DO do that and it’s something the creator’s endorse because it means they are getting paid more money.
There are third-party podcast apps that rehost feeds and may add their own stuff to the content — that’s another issue entirely — but most dynamic ad-insertion stuff is happening with the permission/consent of the people that make the podcast, either explicitly or as terms they agreed to in order to get hosted/have ads sold on their behalf.
At least, when I've been able to track down sources, they seem to be mostly hosted on generic CDNs, which gives me some hope that the same file is being served to all listeners.
I do know that early on, companies who did this stuff (like NPR, who was really early to this game and has been doing some type of dynamic ad-insertion for more than a decade) often had separate versions of the audio file. So you could have an ad-free version of the file (maybe for users in certain geographic regions, if an ad-buy was specifically targeted) and then other versions of the file with ads built-in — and an algorithm would determine what version a user accessed based on a variety of parameters. If that’s the case, yeah, you would probably be able to figure out if multiple versions existed and then request the ad-free version from CDN or whatever.
At this point, it’s my understanding that most of the dynamic insertion is happening server-side — where ads are inserted based on campaign timing and maybe geo-targeting) at the point of the download or stream request (though I imagine even here, most of what is served is coming from a CDN, I just mean the initial request). That way, the download/stream always has “current” ads, even if the show itself is years old. (I don’t know how often they update those different versions — I would imagine you have 6-week campaign as an example where all episodes get an insert and are then cached on the CDN and then after the campaign ends a new file is generated and cached). That isn’t to say you couldn’t potentially still get access to a copy of a file without inserts — but I bet it would be a lot more difficult.
dynamic ad-insertion is
something the podcasters
I always assumed the sponsor plugs some youtubers put into their videos  would be much higher impact than dynamic pre-roll ads, and would therefore command a much higher price.
 e.g. https://youtu.be/R2-UmtZY9Qk?t=869
When there are ad spots in the middle where i imagine it could be pretty easy to cut in an ad dynamically. Some podcasts do a little music fade in/fade out before and after an ad, which is usually a script or something from the advertiser read by the podcast host. I assume the the transition and ad are mostly done dynamically? although i have no way of knowing for sure.
As far as I know, they are also the last digital ads with a non-disableable skip button, so you win some and lose some.
So they don’t have to stitch together one new audio file per local but place metadata markers in the audio file metadata that prompts ad insertion. These usually have a marker for length and the systems handle number of plays and placement spots. Don’t know as much about that end. HLS being a chunked format would allow the files to be stitched back together on the client end as well with ads in place.
Wouldn’t be surprised if they’re doing this. Also wouldn’t be surprised if many Podcasts are broadcast via HLS as it’s native in Apple software and Apple devices. Someone else with more knowledge would have to confirm or deny that, though.
But I’m sure independents/lower-volume shows at the very least operate like you’ve said. Makes sense.
The podcasting standard does not allow for HLS enclosures.
source: I have worked in podcasting for almost 10 years.
I believe the host of your podcast files that people download will send different audio files to different people with different ads targeted in.
I don’t care about the ads much but they’re impossible to distinguish from content, for those who would wish to do this.
It's very much like Apple rolling out original television shows on the AppleTV. It's not like HBO is getting kicked out.
It makes sense to me that Apple would do this. Since it's making podcasts a separate program on the Mac, it wants to make it more popular and useful.
As far as I can tell, there's nothing stopping another person, company, or organization from producing podcasts that blow Apple's offerings out of the water and still distributing them through Apple. When that happens, I'll worry. Until then, this seems like an OK way to draw attention to podcasts as a whole.
In both scenarios it is a company giving their product an artificial advantage. There's no technical reason that a website should only run on one browser, it kind of feels the same way with podcasts.
Then again Netflix makes Netflix originals, which are only available on Netflix, and I don't mind that, so I guess my viewpoint is contradictory.
There are arguments for why this could be a bad thing. Originals/exclusives have the effect of giving an "unfair" advantage to the company who makes them, because to watch them you need to subscribe to their service. This allows them to compete in avenues other than price and quality of service. This is a similar issue to movie studios owning theater chains, the customers benefit from being able to go see the latest blockbuster at any theater they want, instead of only at company theaters.
The counterpoint is that this makes exclusives more valuable to a streaming service than the average tv show, which means more might get funded than if exclusives were illegal
What if the content producer just wanted to sell the raw video file of their movie to consumers directly? I.e. you go to the movie's website, pay, and download an .mp4 file? That's not much different than how Netflix works, except that DRM makes it tricky for the layperson to move that file around to other devices or video players.
So perhaps what this law would look like is just a ban on DRM, although even if that happened, and the content producer had an app or website that took payment and served DRM-free video files, there's no simple way to move that file around, particularly on mobile phones or TV streaming boxes, so I think the sheer convenience of using the content producer's app or website would still result in largely the same "unfair" advantage to large content producers or unions of content producers.
Another legal alternative might be to simply require content producers and distribution networks to be owned by different companies. I believe that idea has been proposed by Elizabeth Warren and others, although I don't know if it's a very fully-fledged proposal or if it would be a good idea. It seems like the distribution networks would still have massive economies of scale and thus the few really big networks would have leverage over customers and content producers that would still result in a lot of exclusivity.
No. The platform (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) would have to have a different ownership structure than the content creator. This would allow the studios to sell their shows to whoever they want under whatever terms they want (presumably to the highest bidder). This should theoretically let the free market work effectively.
This (separation of platform from product on said platform) is the basis for many proposals for breaking up "big tech" and is IMO the way to go.
There exists a sliding scale between "100% an agnostic platform" and "100% creates and hosts only exclusive content", both of which have existed for decades, and now people are worried that Apple is funding podcasts?
Plus, at least Netflix et all try to be cross-platform (even if we Linux users are often left in the cold). Will I need an Apple device to listen to these podcasts? If so, that's rather different than those other cases.
Ask Google, which is actively encouraging people to write web sites that only work on Chrome.
Sometimes it's OK, sometimes it's not.
Netflix and Hulu and other streamers are allowed to make and distribute original content.
Since 1987 in the United States, aside from news, TV networks aren't allowed to make and distribute their own content.
Apple was allowed to have exclusive albums on iTunes ("iTunes Originals").
Large movie producers aren't allowed to make and show their own content in their own theaters.
Maybe someday the regulations that apply to other media will catch up to internet streamers. But that's not where we are today.
That hasn’t been the case for years.
Look no further than ABC/Disney and “Agents of Shield”, CW (owned jointly by CBS/Warner) and all of the DC related programs, Fox (until Disney bought part of Fox), FoxNetworks and the Simpsons.
Do you have an example of this claim? I'd be interested to see Google saying anything of the sort.
Why would I ask Google? We’re talking about Apple Podcasts.
Where the heck did you get this idea from?
This isn't true at all. The vast majority of TV Networks shows are made by the studio that owns the network, because there's a huge financial incentive to do so. Heck, the reality is that half the shows you probably like remain on air despite weak ratings because they are made by the studio that owns the network and so they are taking into account the profits from international sales.
Studios don't own networks. Studios make programs. Those programs are distributed through distribution companies to stations.
Due to corporate consolidation, it has become common in recent years for a big corporation (Disney, for example) to own a production studio, a TV network, and a distribution company. But they have to exist as independent entities from each other.
Because of common ownership, bundling deals, and audience expectations it is common for a TV show to stay within a particular corporate parent, but it is not alway the case. There are a number of TV stations in the US that air content from two or even three of the big four networks.
That's why at the end of all the network entertainment TV shows you see the distributor listed. It is a separate company.
So I think the issue here is clearly just about the semantics of the term "podcast" and how people apparently strongly identify the term with free audio content available on multiple platforms. Presumably people wouldn't be too upset with Apple hiring Howard Stern to do a video interview series distributed on its premium video streaming platform. But apparently people would be upset if Apple hired Howard Stern to do an audio interview series distributed on its so-called "Podcasts" app.
And I don’t trust that ‘the rest’ will continue to get good treatment like they have. It’s too easy to stop featuring big podcasts from companies who are now your podcast competitors.
Basically they’re losing their neutrality.
Particularly if the only way they can finance the shows is by limiting it to their platform, then I’d rather have them still produce that content than not at all…
Sometimes it’s the only way it makes sense as a business, there is no open alternative.
Spotify, Netflix, and every other streaming service functions this way with non-portable content and providing clients on every platform. While piracy fills the void for those who can’t pay or access the platform (for geographic reasons or w/e).
But I have to agree with the OP, it isn’t really a podcast anymore if it’s tied to one platform. It’s more like an on-demand XM radio show than a podcast.
I have good podcast apps. I want them supported, not crippled because they suddenly became apple’s competitors.
- tight Siri integration.
- Apple Watch support for cellular streaming.
Both of those limitations will be corrected by this fall.
- streaming over cellular is coming to WatchOS 6 (https://9to5mac.com/2019/06/09/watchos-6-spotify/)
- Siri audio intents is coming to iOS 13 (https://www.macworld.com/article/3400881/ios-13-enables-siri...)
These are the same issues that podcast already have. Podcast apps are just as much “second class citizens” as third party music apps.
As it stands now, if you want to add all of the episodes from a show that you have listened to for the past 14 years that somehow was not subscribed to on your device, you have to go to the show and subscribe, go to available episodes and tap on the + next to every.single.episode and even then sometimes episodes get lost.
You can set the custom settings to download all available, but it won't download the episodes of a subscribed podcast if you haven't explicitly added them (tap that + sign)
Also, can we just set the screen podcast app opens on to our own choice? I literally have to go through an extra menu just to see my show listing. Yes, I've created a "station" for the shows but that's immensely inconvenient if I want to listen to one show continuously without having to navigate to the shows page (guess I have to create a station for every show...)
I don't think the Apple funded shows will be bad. This article really seems to be creating a mountain out of nothing. Hopefully, this means that some lucky podcaster or media group makes $$$ off of a deal with Apple.
It's gone now that everybody has a pocket supercomputer, but it's stunning just how far it went in completely changing the way we relate to music, and audio in general.
I've seriously considered building my own music hardware company just to recapture a few features and UX experiences which for me at least made music a much bigger part of my life.
There is a speed setting that speeds things up without sounding distorted. You can toggle between a configurable list of speeds (I switch between 1.0x and 1.15x depending on the podcast). I just wish it would remember different speeds for each podcast -- currently the speed behaves as a global setting.
The UI is set up so that when you download a new episode it goes into the reproduction queue. I don't think it has playlists but in my experience being able to reorder the episodes in the queue is all I need because I rarely listen to the same episode twice.
As far as I know Overcast does not inject ads into podcasts. There are banner ads within the app but that's not "injection"
Of course I didn't purchase Overcast. There are better free alternatives.
It’s the podcast host adding ads in via automated means that are supposedly customized for each listener. And doing a poor job of it.
1. Create a distribution platform. Users pay $14 a month to stream all content. Everyone is happy.
2. Once successful, start creating exclusive content.
3. Content creators on your platform start their own platforms and take content off of yours.
4. Now users are paying $14 for 6 different distribution/content platforms. Might as well just call them "channels". This is no better than cable.
Also you really don't need to subscribe to all of them. Who needs that much content? I can't even keep up with my Netflix or YouTube queue, let alone the others. I have Amazon Prime, but never use it. HBO for a couple shows, but could subscribe only during their seasons.
It is just a small step from this kind of self-promotion to showing ads for stuff on Amazon. After all, they have my purchasing and article browsing profile and could easily try to find articles that I might be inclined to buy. I would put some bucks on the line betting that we will see something like that in the next 5 years.
With streaming, we can avoid this because it's possible offer packages:
Price X includes ads
Price X+Y has no ads
As long as Y is something enough consumers are willing to pay, you can always price yourself out of the ad-watching category by paying more. The trouble with out conventional "freebie" internet services as we know them is there aren't enough people willing to pay the additional Y.
6. Users begin to drop from platforms.
7. Platforms realize the masses are fatigued from dealing with 5-10 different apps, multiple monthly payments, queues, sifting through tons of mediocre exclusive content, etc. They decide to create a God Platform that manages multiple "channels" through a single subscription.
8. Users love it, flocking to the new God Platform.
10. The new model ensures that content producers compete at the contract negotiation level and don't manifest in user-visible price differences so the price of content gradually shifts away from the cost of production and up to customers' willingness to pay since all content producers are singular in the intent to maximize total user revenue.
11. Access to this God Platform is pretty much ubiquitous and ISPs try to differentiate themselves by bundling discounted subscriptions as part of their internet package. People love it and gradually move over.
12. Once every ISP offers the service the discount evaporates as it's no longer a differentiating feature.
Content creators can easily create distribution platforms of their own. So if you're Disney? Well, why deal with Netflix?
Netflix et al are then in a bind, in that they eventually have less and less content, so they start making content.
It's kind of a vicious circle.
Sure it's annoying to view, but it's out there! (Note, it's annoying, not necessarily expensive! You can subscribe to a different service each month.)
Last time on afterwork they started asking me why my podcast isn't in Spotify. I hesitated at first because I knew that I'm basically would need to tell them that they're working for a company which does immoral things and that I don't want to help them to destroy the Podcast landscape.
But there was no way around it so I tried to explain it as soft as possible, but they're intelligent people and didn't have a problem in understanding what I'm trying to say even though they themselves never thought in those categories. There was a bit of awkward silence after that. But then we changed the subject.
ps, I built Listen Notes ( https://www.listennotes.com/ ) to be an independent podcast directory that helps surface long tailed podcasts (public & distributed via rss). If you want to build a better podcast app, you can use Listen Notes API to jumpstart your project: https://www.listennotes.com/api/
I don't understand this. Why can't that 30 minute conversation be transcribed into a script which you can read in 5 minutes? Either way, you're missing practically everything in the book.
I feel that is a false equivalence as information transfer is not typically part of music.
Podcasts should just be an RSS feed that anyone can consume, but I think exclusivity will be important going forward, along with locking people into apps so they can be tracked and monetized.
No, that's Chrome's wheelhouse
Hating on Apple for doing what the bulk of the commercial content industry seems misplaced.
Next I suppose you'll be complaining because Apple chooses to be part of the capitalist economy and expects to be paid money for their goods. That's terrible for consumers! Screw you Apple!
And I'm not hating on Apple for doing what the bulk of the commercial content industry is doing. I listen to The Daily via their public RSS feeds, and I'm also an NYT subscriber. A significant majority of podcasting is available via public RSS feeds, even subscription-only Slate Plus allows you to plug a personalized RSS feed into the app of your choice. Apple and Spotify aren't building on existing open-web technologies that power RSS to deliver their premium content, they're forcing everybody into their proprietary apps after purchasing podcast producers (some of which, like Gimlet, I was previously ALSO a paid member of).
Perhaps it's best that we default to a highly critical stance when it comes to the most valuable and most profitable company in the world, and the decisions they make that affect the foundational principles of the web as we know it?
Only if there is an extinguish.
Even then I'd say no, because if you don't like what happened, build your own damn thing. Channel your inner RMS, please. If something isn't free to begin with, having it taken away from you isn't a loss—it's a reminder that it was never free to begin with.
> A significant majority of
Thanks for agreeing with my point without realising it. Some podcasts aren't available for free and/or via RSS. As it happens I pay $5/month to access my favourite podcast, which is available via a private RSS feed. And my second-favourite "podcast" is free but not available with an RSS feed.
But no, zaksoup hates a diversity of business models.
> decisions they make that affect the foundational principles of the web as we know it
Like companies putting journalism behind a paywall? Screw those arseholes! Who are they to charge me for goods and services?
Just the way the Podfather, Adam Curry, intended.
It routinely doesn't sync where I am between devices and never works correctly on my HomePod. Adding old episodes on one device won't add it anywhere else. The Apple TV version simply doesn't have the ability to add episodes to your library. The less said about iTunes' podcast functionality the better.
I know they're porting the iOS Podcasts app to Mac for the next version so there's some hope.. maybe.
Set podcasts to download on my iPhone. Doesn't download on my watch and my laptop starts downloading 50gb worth of podcasts. I will probably move over to overcast.
And, yes, I recognize that'd be kind of a jerk move, but I'm okay with being a jerk in this context.
Spotify has its own repository that is separate from Apple Podcasts — you have to manually submit to them and they don’t just ingest Apple’s directory (as others do), but I wouldn’t be opposed to not submitting an Apple podcast to Spotify.
That said, I’m not in favor of doing anything to the RSS feed that makes it nonstandard. So if Luminary can add/play files from an RSS feed (not talking about how they import stuff into their own directory) or Spotify had that feature, I’d be opposed to breaking the feed, if that makes sense.
The situation ATM seems awful.
Given Beats 1 as "platform exclusive radio" hasn't made much of a splash (is it still going?), maybe audio content is better thought about as extending awareness as opposed increasing stickiness.
They might be. No reason to lean either way. But it’s expensive. It feels contrary to the desires of people who invested in apple, the hardware, software, and platform provider...
At minimum it helps the medium gain a wider adoption.
Why do you say:
> and will hopefully keep Spotify from taking over the market.
Why would that be such a bad thing in your opinion?
Spotify seems like a clear underdog with a ton more vulnerability here. If anything I worry about the giants (like Apple) continuing to approach monopoly/gatekeeper status and closing those of us non-Apple users off from more and more.
Somewhat off topic but I literally can't even text some of my friends anymore because I'm a "green bubble" or something like that, and it drives them nuts. I hate the emerging world of have and have-nots that are not for technical reasons at all.
Spotify has most of the music streaming market (more then double Apple Music's share). I do agree that exclusives are bad, but my assumption is that Apple will make an android podcasts app if they do start charging / require service exclusivity (Like they did with apple music).
As for the iMessage issue... I don't really have a good solution for that. I know lots of people use Discord / Signal / GroupMe / Wire for group chats, since its more platform agnostic.
Sadlol, I remember when SMS was platform agnostic :-(
That is really good advice tho. I've started using Keybase, Mattermost, and Telegram quite a bit and while having multiple apps is a pain, it does address the various needs of groups pretty well.
Your right, requiring a device to access content would be bad, but seeing that Apple is trying to transition to a service based model, I don't think access will that much of an issue.
It used to be that it didn't matter who you were - the distribution channel was all that mattered. For example, MTV could make you famous in an instant, but the second the channel let you go and replaced you with the next flavor of the week, you were out of luck.
More recently, we've moved to a model where the platform and medium are less important than the personality. Think Joe Rogan, who pushes his podcast out to every channel possible. Or Barstool Sports, which has various content in the form of podcasts, blogs, YouTube videos, etc.
These power law podcasters (Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, etc.) can make more money on their own than through exclusivity with a distribution network. But they are few and far between, and require an entire support system to handle ads, cross-posting content, business admin, etc.
So it seems that the majority of full-time podcasters and content creators, after attracting an audience, will move back towards a walled garden of content.
If you're a creator making a living off of your work, would you rather spend 75% of your time on business admin and cobble together your income through ad and merch sales? Or sign with Apple or Spotify, collect a salary, and spend 100% of your time creating art?
We haven't come full-circle, though. While these creators are locked into the platform, people are coming to the platform for the creators themselves. The creators have far more power than they used to. But the consumer has to pay for a "cable package" of podcast apps and video streaming apps.
Corollary: Lots of people no longer root for teams, but for their favorite athletes. I see a ton of this especially in the NBA, where people are LeBron fans first and just root for whatever team he's currently playing for.
The one thing I think that makes this different is that podcasts are stupid cheap to produce and distribute. You could put together a podcast network in a weekend. Getting sponsors is probably harder than getting listeners.
I honestly don't see the value-add of Apple throwing their weight into this market, unless they're planning on monopolizing audio content distribution on iPhones, or paying a lot more than the podcast's sponsor spots are worth. I'd be wary of being tied to a single platform for distribution, because that's played hell with creators on YouTube.
(A video of Tim prank calling Apple tech support circa 2006 trying to get Apple to fund their podcast. The faux biz speak is great)
There's probably little hope in growing a platform of highly produced podcasts that supports a bunch of creators, regardless of who does it. I think think these efforts will crash and burn. But this isn't a problem for the people who've been recording on a Zoom and paying $5/month to host their libraries for the last 10 years.
If Apple wants to fend off rivals, then just stop treating podcasts as second class citizens and built tools for creators, including detailed analytics. I'm not talking about the type of analytics that Google would built (one that reports that you were sitting on john while listening to this part), but one with anonymized usage data that helps creators producing new content and generate revenue through subscription and advertisement.
I agree if they cared about podcasts they should start with enabling all podcasts. Walling off accessibility podcast audio streams is dumb precedent for such an influential player to fuel.
Admittedly, I was trying to be a bit funny. Didn't work out obviously.
1. Fix your app for people that sub to more than 10 podcasts, I crash all the time and takes me maybe 5-10 minutes to load into the app. I had to switch to Spotify because I can't use Apple's version anymore.
2. Host podcasts for premium members. Run ads for them.
3. Create an Android and Windows app. Separate Mac app. Own this space.
Who does? It's not like most of us have any say in the matter.
Anybody who listens to podcasts has a say in the matter. Boycott Apple, Spotify, etc.
I’m fine with subscription podcasts, I pay for a few. But if I can’t use my podcast app it’s not happening.
Given how many "must-listen" podcasts I've been recommended, I can definitely stand waiting out these exclusives... until a cultural-moment series (a la Serial) comes along and necessitates real-time consumption.
I can't personally imagine Joe Rogan or Sam Harris kind of conversations under the Apple umbrella, since no matter the topic, there's always going to be someone offended and it's now a question of who's gonna spin the "Apple is sponsoring nazis" kind of narrative first.
Got no problem with people making money off podcasts, but once everything starts getting consolidated, crap just goes south.