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Insider: January 23, 2020

- Apple's original podcasts... is to be Apple TV+ Companion podcasts - A Chinese Audio company to list on the NASDAQ - The Ringer Union puts out a statement... and more!

Bloomberg: Apple’s original podcast slate… is just to support its original TV projects? The Bloomberg report notes that Cupertino is “discussing making original podcasts related to programs on its Apple TV+ video service.” This comes, of course, after the earlier Bloomberg report from the summer noting that Apple was discussing “funding original podcasts,” which kicked up broad worries in some podcasting corners about a future environment in which Apple competes with Spotify on the same exclusivity playbook, in which a likely outcome would be a rapid balkanization of the podcast universe. (Decidedly a Bad Thing for independents and open podcasting advocates.)

The information in this new Bloomberg report would seem to suggest that those summer discussions were specifically referring to this execution model, in which case, great for independents and open podcasting advocates… for now, anyway. But of course, there’s always the prevailing anxiety of a slippery slope variety, and if you wanted to sound vaguely smart, you can always say something like, “You know, if they see success with these companion podcasts, maybe it’ll be enough to convince to fund actual original podcasts.”

Except that would be, in my opinion, the most Basic argument in existence.

Meanwhile, on The Ringer front… The union over there put out a statement on Tuesday noting that the company’s management has not addressed the recent reports of early talks about a potential sale to Spotify with its employees. They reiterated the point yesterday. Will be keeping an eye on this…

Meanwhile, on the public markets front… I can’t, for the life of me, trust the fidelity of most reports on “podcasting” companies in China — see this column from last summer — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep tabs on the press releases cycle coming out of that on-demand audio scene.

Here’s TechCrunch, from Monday: “Lizhi, one of China’s biggest audio content apps, is debuting on Nasdaq today under the ticker symbol LIZI. It is the first of its major competitors, Ximalaya and Dragonfly, to go public.”

Meanwhile, in California… Still tracking the AB5 stuff. Worthwhile piece from Digiday: “‘It definitely limits our options’: Under AB 5, publishers and freelancers see costs rise.”

Never thought I’d live to see the day. From the great Sara Fischer over at Axios: “Business Insider, Vox Media, The Information, Axios and Politico all turned profits in 2019, in several cases for the first time ever, sources tell Axios. Others, like The Athletic, BuzzFeed and Vice, say they are expecting to do so this year.” Podcasting and on-demand audio are said to things pushing in digital media’s favor.