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Insider August 18, 2022 — Apple has some new charts for us

And they show that Amazon is dominating the subscription game

Happy Thursday, everyone. We’ve got a few big items today: a Megaphone / Chartable / Podsights mashup, layoffs at Audacy affecting stations across the US, and more data from Apple Podcasts.

Apple debuts two new charts for subscription podcasts

We love a chart! Today, Apple Podcasts is introducing a pair of new top 100 charts that track subscription podcasts and subscription podcast channels. It should give those paywalled shows, which may not make it onto the main rankings, a little more visibility. I personally love it because it lets me keep an eye on which shows people are willing to spend money on.

Amazon’s stable of shows dominates the new charts. Morbid, SmartLess, and Something Was Wrong, which release early for subscribers of Amazon-owned Wondery Plus, nab the top three spots among subscriber shows in the US. The type of arrangement, which is looser than the platform-exclusive arrangement that Spotify has with shows like The Joe Rogan Experience and Call Her Daddy, appears to be working in driving subscriptions. 

Wondery Plus, meanwhile, is the top subscription channel overall in the US, Canada, and the UK. In the US, the Sword and Scale +PLUS Light (elegant!), The Binge, Luminary, and Pushkin Plus take the next four spots.

Caveats abound, of course. Like the main Apple Podcasts charts, these new ones use a unique and somewhat opaque definition of “top.” That’s to say: these are not a direct measure of which shows and channels have the most subscribers or are making the most money — though those elements are factored in. Like Apple’s other podcast charts, these new charts base their rankings on a mix of listener engagement, follows, and completion rate. They also weigh total subscribers and engagement with subscription content, Apple spokesperson Zach Kahn tells Hot Pod.

TL;DR: making a ton of money isn’t enough to hit the top of the list — people still have to be tuning in. Though if you’re making all that cash… chances are you’ve got some big fans anyway.

Audacy hits staff with layoffs

Anticipating a rough advertising market for radio, Audacy is laying off some of its workforce, with the number of cuts landing under 5 percent of staff, spokesperson Ashok Sinha tells Hot Pod. Hosts and staffers at local stations in cities including Milwaukee, Las Vegas, and St. Louis, among others, have confirmed their departures, according to RadioInsight, and the company-wide cuts are expected to affect the podcast side of the business as well. 

Audacy’s podcast operation is not as big as rival iHeartMedia’s, but the radio giant has made a number of purchases in the digital audio space. It acquired podcast studios Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios in 2019 as well as WideOrbit’s audio streaming tech in 2021.

In a statement to Hot Pod, the company said that it has added hundreds of new roles as it expanded over the past few years. “In light of current macroeconomic headwinds, like so many other companies, we have been proactively taking actions to mitigate against the impact of any downturn,” said an Audacy spokesperson. “These include evaluating budgets, reducing expenses, and also reducing our workforce.”

Even as the company grew in some ways, it also quietly pared down the number of people on its payroll. At the beginning of 2020, Audacy had more than 7,000 employees. In 2021, it was down to 6,000. At the beginning of 2022, that figure was under 4,900. Assuming Audacy’s staffing has stayed relatively stable since then, that means up to around 245 additional people may have been laid off. 

Correction: this story initially said Audacy was cutting 5 percent of its staff. Sinha tells us the number is under five percent.

Spotify offers new perk for Megaphone users — sweet, sweet data

For podcast publishers who use Megaphone, Spotify will start offering free access to Chartable and Podsights, the data measurement tools it acquired earlier this year. According to Spotify, the new data capabilities will allow Megaphone users to better understand their listeners and which advertisements are making an impact.

“This new bundle underscores our commitment to empowering our partners with audience insights and measurement tools that are integral to the success and scale of their businesses,” said Emma Vaughn, head of advertising business development and partnerships at Spotify.

Spotify is not just being generous here. This is also a deeply competitive move designed to make Megaphone an even more appealing option and bring more podcasters onto its hosting and advertising platform. Advertising is becoming an increasingly important part of Spotify’s business, making up 13 percent of the company’s revenue last quarter. With two top data and attribution services bundled in, Megaphone — and its advertising services — will look even harder to avoid.

That’s all for today. Jake’s back tomorrow, and I’ll see some of you next week at Podcast Movement.