Issue 225,  published September 10, 2019

Tracking: September 10, 2019

The thing about the Apple App store… The New York Times published a report yesterday, which essentially revisits a Wall Street Journal article from July, about how Apple’s app store seems to often privilege the company’s own apps over everyone else’s. It’s a topic that fuels broader on-going complaints over anti-competitive behavior by big technology companies in general, one that we will likely continue to see play out for quite a bit.

Anyway, the Times report has additional interest for us here in podcast-land: not only is the “podcast” search term a primary case study within the article, there’s also an appearance by Stitcher marketing chief Amy Fitzgibbons, who told the Times that the Stitcher app gets virtually negligible downloads through the Apple app store compared to the Google Play store.

When the Journal article on the matter first dropped, the story mostly centered around the subject of app competition. Since then, though, we’ve come to learn, via a Bloomberg scoop, about the possibility of Apple financing original audio content exclusive to its platforms… which, of course, brings into this narrative thread a whole new weight.

Don’t miss: Axios’ report from last week on the suspicious nature of Himalaya Media’s venture capital funding. The startup, linked to the Chinese audio platform giant Ximalaya FM, made a press push back in February around a supposed $100 million VC fundraise. “Today, however, we know that some of the initial information was false, and it’s impossible to validate the $100 million figure,” writes Axios’ Dan Primack and Sara Fischer. What utter ridiculousness.

Audioboom-Voxnest tech partnership. There’s a lot of hoo-ha in the press release, but essentially, Audioboom, which provides distribution and monetization services for a bunch of third-party publishers (on top of being a publisher itself), will now use Voxnest’s suite of tools. The detail to note: Voxnest is pushing programmatic audio advertising exchange integrations.

Heads up. Anshuman Iddamsetty, a wildly talented Toronto-based podcast producer, is back on the market if you’re looking for a solid and thoughtful showrunner. Huge fan of the work he did on Hazlitt’s podcast, The Arcade, from a few years ago, as well as the stories he was able to assemble under the auspices of the Shopify branded podcast, Vanguard. Hit him up.

Release Notes. Three projects to flag:

(1) Preach, a new ten-episode interview podcast that’s being rolled out by PRX and Salt Lake City’s KUER, which features the station’s religion reporter, Lee Hale, in conversation with various guests and celebrities on doubts and beliefs. (Swerving into that Krista Tippett lane.)

(2) Broken: Jeffrey Epstein, i.e. the first project from the joint Sony Music-Adam Davidson-Laura Mayer venture, a.k.a. Three Uncanny Four.

(3) Las Raras, the Chilean Spanish-language nonfiction podcast and Google Podcast Creators program alum, returns for its second season this Thursday.

By the way, I’ve updated my Best Podcasts of 2019 (so far) list over at Vulture.

Y’all thought Hollywood was going to put indie fiction podcasts out of business… but did anybody think about Korn?

This Week in the Adaptation pipeline: Limetown is finally hitting… the small screen, I guess? ICYMI: the television version of the 2015 fiction podcast, created by Skip Bronkie and Zack Akers, was picked up by Facebook Watch, the social media giant’s long-form video initiative, and the project will made its first public appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival last week. It’s scheduled to drop on the FB Watch service on October 6.

Can’t say I know much about Facebook Watch, particularly as it relates to the rest of the ~streaming wars~, but here’s a Variety report from June in which Facebook tries to make the argument that the service is working. Note the major prefaces when it comes to the audience stats offered by the social media giant.

In the meantime, shout-out to LAist Studios’ Arwen Nicks, whose recent tweet hit the target so hard it ripped a hole in the fabric of the universe: “all my tv friends want to make podcasts and all my podcast friends want to make tv.”