Marketing 4 min read

Google Acquires 60db to Compete with Apple Podcasts

Diego Cervo |

Diego Cervo |

Google has acquired the podcast app 60dB, which was founded by former Netflix execs. The transaction should help Google boost its podcast efforts.  

Like television, radio used to be characterized by a show schedule that kept the audience tethered to certain occasions. These days, however, if you want quality radio content it’s usually available as a podcast.

Instead of broadcasters trying to make their content appeal to a wide audience, these days, the audience can seek out whatever they desire to hear at any time..

#Google acquires #60dB to position itself on the podcast market.Click To Tweet

Podcasting allows professional and even amateur broadcasters to easily distribute their content to the entire world. Thanks to the cloud, it’s almost always available. Storing all of your favorite music is a thing of the past.

Producers, the audience, and advertisers en mass have supported the evolution of the podcast, but there is perhaps no single entity more responsible for the rise of the podcast than Apple.

Apple Kickstarted the Podcast Genre

Podcasts wouldn’t be the same without Apple. Even the name, podcast, is derived from its primary medium of delivery being the iPod back in the day.

In 2005, Apple helped nascent podcasting go mainstream by proposing its digital music software (via the iTunes 4.9 update) that gave the podcasting community a central platform for discovering, managing and sharing their broadcasts with hundreds of millions of users.

Since then, the podcast industry has become a market large enough to enable the emergence of new tools and attract new players.

#iOSPodcasts handles the distribution of 65% of all #podcastsClick To Tweet

Apple, which back then was already “coming back” and the iPhone was still two years away, also has changed, though it still dominates the podcast market.

Yet, some podcasters have grievances to bear against Apple, which controls the listening medium of about 65% of all podcasts through its built-in iOS app Podcasts.

Podcasters bemoan the lack of analytics (especially audience statistics) and the lack of transparency as to the criteria for promoting podcasts on the Apple Podcasts platform.

Apple’s “small” podcast team is now facing rising competition from other players, such as Google and Spotify, who would be more than happy to take over the market share.

Google Acquires 60dB to Position Itself on the Podcast Scene

The 60dB app was launched in January 2016 by John Ciancutti and Steve McLendon, two Netflix ex-executives and Steve Henn, a radio journalist.

The 60dB is a short-form podcast app that allows the streaming of customized playlists composed of shorter audio formats produced by dozens of media partners.

The radio service (made available on iOS then Android, and later on Amazon’s Echo) specializes in personalized audio content (from news and entertainment to sports and business) which, similarly to podcasting, fits niches of free time during the day.

Last month, in a Medium farewell post, the three co-founders revealed that Google has formalized the acquisition of 60dB:

“Today, we’re announcing we’ll be shutting down 60dB on Friday, November 10th, and we’ll be joining the team at Google. As we considered next steps for 60dB, we came to the conclusion that to accomplish our goals we’d be better positioned if we joined someone with scale who shared our vision for what was possible with digital audio.”

The deal sum and terms have not been disclosed. Google said that it’s not a formal acquisition, that it has only purchased some assets, and that the 60db team will be joining the well-known Mountain View, California company in new roles.

It is not entirely clear how Google intends to exploit the technology and team expertise of 60dB, but the acquisition should help it secure a chunk of the podcast market.

Per Edison Research’s latest report, in 2017, 40% of Americans (age 12 and older) said they have listened to a podcast at some point (up by 11 points from last year), and more than half of the total US population (53%, 140 million) listen to online radio weekly.

Dan Carlin is one of our favorite podcasters. What are some of your favorite podcasts?

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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