Podcasting is having a moment. Maybe, if we stretch just a bit, a year. And possibly even an era.
Twitter just bought podcasting platform Breaker, the app that took podcasting and made it social. And what began as a trend — Spotify buying podcast platforms Anchor and Gimlet in 2019 — is turning into a torrent as many of the other big players in technology are buying podcasts, podcasters, podcasting tools, and podcast publishing platforms.
Tech moves in eras.
There was the era of PCs. The era of search. The era of social, and the era of smartphones. None of these necessarily roll over and go away: like radio or TV or magazines, they adapt, morph, and persist as new eras and new paradigms take precedence. But each era focuses innovation and investment and attention in a new space.
Today podcasting is one of those spaces.
Amazon bought Wondery, a podcasting network. Spotify bought Anchor and Gimlet, plus Parcast, plus Stitcher, plus Megaphone (a podcasting ad platform), plus the future rights to the most popular podcast on the planet, the Joe Rogan Experience.
SiriusXM has gone deep into podcasts, adding deals with Marvel and ESPN and Conan O’Brien. Google has a podcasting platform. Apple, which popularized podcasts, still has perhaps the most popular platform, has experimented with new audio/music programs as part of Apple Music, and, according to Bloomberg, is amping up its efforts to produce original content for Apple Podcasts as well, connecting those efforts to its streaming video service TV+.
So Amazon is in. Google is in. Apple is in. Spotify is in.
And now Twitter, which is already experimenting with new ways of telling stories and connecting by adding “Fleets” to its app in recent months, is also in.
Can Facebook be far behind?
For Twitter, Breaker will likely be about new ways of helping people publish and connect. Twitter is shutting down Periscope, its live-streaming video service, and seems to be pulling in innovation from separate, connected apps to right inside the Twitter experience. Breaker is shutting down, and the team will be working on new projects for the Twitter app.
“Sadly, for us and our users, we’ll be shutting down Breaker on Friday, January 15th. This will allow us to focus on building what comes next,” Breaker CEO Erik Berlin said in a Medium post. “We’re now inspired to go even further in re-imagining how we communicate with each other, beyond the scope of traditional podcasts.”
That sounds something like audio sharing on Twitter, because Berlin also said that “we’re truly passionate about audio communication and we’re inspired by the ways Twitter is facilitating public conversations for people around the world.”
Twitter has dabbled in audio tweets before and is still testing them, but the addition of a podcasting platform team to Twitter suggests something a bit more permanent, probably subscribable, and certainly shareable.
The question is what’s next in the podcasting platform wars. There are still significant assets out there: publishers, platforms, and creators. And there are still some players — including Facebook but especially Google — who haven’t made significant moves in the space yet.
Google has built a decent app and web experience for podcasts, but there’s so much more that it could do. And with podcasting advertising revenues reportedly growing fast, this is probably a space that it needs to do something in soon in order to be able to offer a complete advertising experience for its clients.
And in order to continue dominating advertising.
For the same reason, Facebook probably needs to at least explore the space. Ignoring it would be ignoring one of the fastest-growing advertising ecosystems in tech.
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