2018 was a tough year for SoundCloud. At least in France. After a lousy buzz during the 2017 summer when it was close to bankruptcy, new hosting services companies were launched in France (led by Ausha and Pippa) and provided new services that the Swedish company, located in Berlin, did not (Several shows management, release management, video clips).
Moreover, it is somewhat expected, given SoundCloud is first and foremost a music sharing platform, before being a podcasting one. Trying to please everyone is a risky strategy that refrains the company from fulfilling basic podcasting expectations. Thus we observed a migration of RSS feeds from SC to new horizons.
So one year in, what’s the current situation?
To do this review in April 2019, I asked myself the following questions:
- What are the major hosting providers in the iTunes France’ top 200?
- What are the major hosting providers for podcasts listed in Podcasteo (French-speaking podcasts directory without catch-up radio)?
- What are the major hosting providers for other French-speaking countries?
- What about the US? And the EU?
iTunes France’s top 200 is still full of catch-up radio shows and hence using proprietary/internal hosting platforms.
Radio stations are sound enough to afford having staff dedicated to the management of internal hosting of audio files, dedicated RSS feeds and the issue of shows episodes. This is why this top 200 does not provide much insight on the situation we want to analyze, as the chart below highlights:
Ausha is in the first spot of the private hosting providers for podcasts listed in Podcastéo.
The French hosting company (they are located in the North of France) joined the French podcast game with a free plan for life for whoever subscribed during the first months of the service. Figures show that this promotional approach allows them to earn many podcasters’ trust.
The first position is still taken by internal hosting, either manually managed, or by dedicated CMS modules like Wordpress offers, or handled by an independent RSS feed manager such as Feedburner.
Then, we have listed 16 different hosting services companies, revealing that still, many actors provide those services with various plans and features.
Also, Soundcloud in all of this? The old private hosting company holds third place with still 15% of the market shares.
Pippa attracted label records and professional podcasters.
When we focused on the Top 200 Podcastéo ranking for March 2019, the spread is different.
If internal hosting is still the first choice for 30% of players (Fréquence Moderne who hosts one of the most famous podcast called 2HDP and performed several lives in theater in the past, FrenchSpin with Patrick Beja hosting The Phileas Club, Apéro du Captain with one of the oldest podcast of the French podcast landscape), Pippa is in the second place of the ranking. Thanks to its deal with Binge Audio (the most significant French label record regarding the audience), Qualiter, Les Echos (French media group that took ownership of one-third of Binge last year), Madame Figaro for example; Pippa takes over with 20% of most influential podcasts of the French-speaking landscape.
Ausha is also around and is in the third place with 16%, is made up with record labels (Madmoizelle which is one of the most influential feminist website in France, Podcut, Podcast Factory, Micro Stockholm) and some of the most prominent independents (Usbek&Rika, Il faut qu’on parle, Bliss, SuperGamerSide).
Soundcloud is in the fourth position, losing all record labels given its lack of dedicated features for them. However, things are still looking relatively bright with known names like Floodcast, Touchdown Actu, Chiffon or le Cosy Corner.
Libsyn is three times more present within the Francophone countries than in France.
For the good of the analysis, results from the top 200 iTunes podcasts in April 21st have been collected from the following countries: France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Canada, Tunisia, Algeria, Liban, Madagascar, and Senegal. It was impossible to get data from other major Francophone countries like Morocco or the Ivory Coast given the lack of results from the Apple API.
Public and private radio stations were already many times in the French ranking, so it is quite similar amongst Francophone countries. Expect that American radio shows produced by NPR for example — or bigger independent shows — are present too.
70% of observed podcasts are internally hosted or accessible via a Feedburner feed. Thus, LIbsyn is the first private hosting service company with 8% (it is in the US too as described below). So who is next? Soundcloud! The Swedish company has 4% of the market share, before Megaphone, art19, Podomatic, Acast and Spotify’s latest acquisition: Anchor.
Soundcloud is still used within the European Union.
WIthin the European Union (the United Kingdom included), the top trio does not change: Internal hosting, Libsyn, and Soundcloud.
The next one is Spreaker, that was under the radar at this time of the analysis. This former Italian company, purchased by Voxnest in 2018 and now located in New York City, is providing hosting, ad revenue, and live services to podcasters.
Then come art19, Acast (which will soon offer its services in several European countries), Podbean and Anchor. Overall, there are 27 different hosting services companies listed in the top iTunes of European Union countries.
Five countries get rid of Soundcloud
If the focus is done solely on Soundcloud’s presence within the top 200 iTunes, the situation is heterogeneous.
One podcast out of eight is hosted by the Swedish company in Hungary, Finland, and Estonia while Italy, the United Kingdom and France have almost dropped the company. Even worse, Spain and Luxembourg do not have any Soundcloud reference in their top 200.
What about the US?
It is not a surprise that the United States gets the lowest rate of internal hosting in their top 200, with only 46% (Internal + Feedburner) of the top 200 iTunes. Market shares are spread among 12 players, including Soundcloud.
Moreover, as a confirmation of what has been observed within the EU, europeans are huge consumers of American podcasts, the ranking is as follow Libsyn, Megaphone, art19, Acast. The only difference is the absence of Anchor in the US ranking.
What to conclude?
After analysing these different rankings around the world and lining it to the kind of podcasts (catch-up radio, record labels, independents), we can highlight the following ideas:
- Internal hosting is still the most common solution for podcasters, providing full control of the supply chain, with total independence, on condition of mastering technical aspects or having the time, the money or both for dedicated resources.
- The French landscape, targeted by several new podcast hosting players in 2018 and 2019, is different from its neighbors — both geographical or linguistic — still dominated by Americans hosting services.
- Soundcloud, that made some improvements podcast-oriented at the end of 2018 (like the schedule of podcast issue) is not gone yet. It is just a French optical illusion.
Julien Loisy, CEO Podcastéo