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The year of 1 trillion streams

The year of 1 trillion streams


More music is being streamed than ever before, and platforms are clamoring for listeners’ attention with end-of-year stats.

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Illustration by Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images

Hello there! I hope you all had a nice break. Thanksgiving food is not my thing, but I did enjoy watching the last third of Saturday Night Fever with my parents and in-laws (shockingly depressing!). 

Back to the grind. Today, Spotify Wrapped copycats make their debut and Google and iHeartMedia get a slap on the wrist for a misleading ad campaign.

Slow Burn wins Apple’s new podcast prize (and promo)

Today, Apple Podcasts named Slate’s Slow Burn its “Show of the Year,” and marked the first time it’s handed out a physical Apple Podcasts Award to the winning title. In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June, Slow Burn published an in-depth account of the history behind the landmark 1973 case. Honestly, the podcast was great (and all the more depressing given the outcome).

Slow Burn was selected by Apple Podcasts’ editorial team. In addition to quality, they took into account metrics like chart performance, listener engagement, and reviews, according to Apple Podcasts spokesperson Zach Kahn. As part of the award, Slate has collaborated with Apple to publish six bonus episodes available for free on Apple Podcasts. But the real prize is all the promo for the show, which dominates the Apple Podcasts landing page. 

‘Tis the season for end-of-year music data

Spotify Wrapped has not yet dropped, and the other platforms are rushing to get out in front. YouTube Music and Apple Music launched their end-of-year recap features today. YouTube has brought its recap stats into the main app, bringing it closer to the experience enjoyed by Spotify users. Apple Music listeners still can only access their personal stats in-browser (as an Apple Music listener, this is extremely lame!!).

Luminate, the data firm behind Billboard charts, reported that listeners in the US have racked up over 1 trillion streams so far in 2022, which is a first. It also reported the top five songs in the country across platforms, which were “As It Was” by Harry Styles, “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals, “Wait For U” by Future, “Super Gremlin” by Kodak Black, and “Me Porto Bonito” by Bad Bunny and Chencho Corleone.

Google and iHeartMedia will pay $9 million settlement over deceptive radio ads

Google and iHeartMedia got into some trouble with the Federal Trade Commission over a 2019–2020 ad campaign for Google’s Pixel 4 smartphone. My colleague Jay Peters reports that Google paid $2.6 million to iHeart (and an additional $2 million to smaller radio networks) for first-person endorsement spots by some of the network’s top hosts without actually giving most of them the phone to test out.

According to filings, iHeart raised the issue of doing endorsements without the product and, on multiple occasions, requested the phones from Google, which declined to provide them because the phones were not yet available in stores. The campaign was carried out anyway, with hosts claiming to have used the phone in their personal lives. “I’ve been taking studio-like photos of everything,” the typical spot read. “My son’s football game... a meteor shower... a rare spotted owl that landed in my backyard. Pics or it didn’t happen, am I right?”

The companies have settled with the FTC and the seven states that joined the suit for a $9.4 million fine and are barred from misrepresenting endorsers’ experiences moving forward. Google will have to file compliance reports for the next three years, while iHeart will be required to file for the next decade. Google said in a statement to The Verge that it was pleased to resolve the issue; iHeart declined to comment.

Podcasting still makes up a tiny portion of digital ad spend

According to new data released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), podcasts constitute less than 4 percent of all ad spend. That puts it in the same league as digital out-of-home advertising, like digital billboards. Grabbing the lion’s share of digital ad spend are digital video (19.3 percent), paid search (13.7 percent), social media (16.6 percent), and digital display (16.4 percent).

Although podcasting’s growth prospects are solid, with IAB projecting that ad spend in podcasting will increase by more than 8 percent in 2023, it is still falling behind digital video. IAB expects that podcasting will make up about the same share in 2023 as it did this year, whereas digital video will take up an even larger share of 22.4 percent. 

The trend helps explain why more podcasts are pushing into video. Even though the CPM rates are typically lower on YouTube than Spotify or Apple, it’s another revenue stream that can potentially rack up a much larger audience. Even if many (most!) podcasts are better off audio only, the ad dollars may be too hard to resist.

That’s all for today — see you next week!

Correction November 30th, 4:35PM ET: Apple initially told us this was its first-ever Apple Podcast Award for Show of the Year; in fact, it was the first with a branded and physical prize for the title. This story has been updated to reflect the distinction.