Spotify, the Swedish music and audio streaming service, has identified podcasts as key to its growth – and the strategy appears to be working, with new research showing that Spotify is now on a par with Apple for podcast shares in Germany.

Even allowing for the fact that Germany is a core market for Spotify, the company secured just 20% of all podcasts streamed or downloaded in Germany in January 2019, according to German podcast network and Podigee, the hosting and analytics provider.

But by December, Spotify had nearly doubled its share of the more than 6,000 podcasts consumed by German listeners in 2019, amounting to 34% compared to Apple’s share of 36%.

Interestingly, Spotify’s growth began to take off in the second half of the year, a few short months after the company spent nearly $400m to acquire Gimlet Media, Anchor and Parcast in a bid to beef up its podcasting capabilities.

However, the raw data does not make that explicit connection. Instead, according to Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab, Spotify’s rapid growth at Apple’s expense is because it has overcome the “discovery problem” – or the huge amount of podcast content that often gets discovered only through word of mouth.

“I’d wager Spotify is growing because it’s solving that discovery problem for some people. In other words, I doubt this movement is a bunch of dedicated Apple Podcasts listeners switching over to Spotify,” Benton noted.

“It’s more likely that it’s about regular Spotify music listeners being presented with interesting podcasts right in the app they’re already using every day – just for a different purpose,” he added.

The study also identified the top podcast categories consumed through Apple and Spotify in Germany last year – and came up with some interesting differences.

News is the top category for almost a quarter (23.3%) of Apple podcast listeners, followed by society & culture (15.6%), comedy (13.4%), business (12%) and sports (7.4%).

By contrast, just 8.3% of Spotify podcast listeners stream or download the news, preferring instead comedy (23.5%), sport (15.5%), business (10.4%) and society & culture (10.1%).

Commenting on the difference, NiemanLab’s Benton said: “You can consume news podcasts on both Apple Podcasts and Spotify. But the structures of both incentivize some kinds of content over others. And it’s possible that Spotify’s ongoing growth here might leave podcasters with a larger but more news-averse audience.”

Sourced from, Podigee, NiemanLab; additional content by WARC staff