Apple Inc., ramping up its spending on original podcasts, has signed a deal with a Pulitzer Prize-winning studio and is in talks with other companies about additional deals.
The iPhone maker is looking to add original content to its Podcasts app that it hopes could eventually turn into shows on its Apple TV+ service. The deal, a deal with Futuro Studios, the creator of the criminal justice series “Suave,” will fund the development and production of podcasts, according to people familiar with the situation. In exchange, Apple will get the first chance to turn any podcast into a movie or TV show.
The company has discussed similar deals with other studios and has so far spent as much as $10 million on the push, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Apple has already announced podcasts with At Will Media, Campside Media, Jigsaw Productions, and Pineapple Street Studios.
Apple and Future declined to comment.
The investments have been led by Apple’s television studio, rather than its podcast division. Despite being one of the world’s largest audio distributors, the company’s podcast unit has avoided funding individual shows or buying networks because it wants to be seen as platform neutral.
Apple has already funded Jigsaw’s “The Line,” an award-winning podcast about Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, as well as Campside’s “Hooked,” a nine-part series about an engineer turned bank robber. Most of Apple’s internal podcasts have been related in one way or another to its television shows. That includes companion podcasts for shows like “For All Mankind” and “The Problem With Jon Stewart.”
None of the audio programs feature advertising yet, and have served primarily as marketing tools for a series of videos, or to gauge interest in the material.
Apple TV+, which launched in 2019, also has shows adapted from existing podcasts. He turned “The Shrink Next Door” into a series with Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell. “WeCrashed,” based on the WeWork Inc. saga, starred Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway. Both podcasts were originally produced by Wondery, now part of Amazon.com Inc.
Apple hasn’t put as much money into original podcasts as Amazon and Spotify Technology SA, which have each spent more than $1 billion acquiring companies and programming. Spotify, Apple’s streaming music rival, has made some of the world’s most popular podcasts exclusive to its service and therefore unavailable to competitors.
Apple isn’t taking that approach, but its foray into the industry bodes well for podcasters seeking funding. With other companies tightening their budgets, investments in audio programs have begun to decline in recent months. Radio networks like IHeartMedia Inc. and Audacy Inc., which have been major funders of original audio, have pulled out as their ad growth falters and stock prices decline.