Audible is one of the biggest players in the audiobook space, and over the past year the company has been hiring a lot of radio and podcast professionals in an effort to expand into new territory.
Now Audible has taken the wraps off its new “short-form digital audio” service.
Audible Channels is basically a premium podcast network featuring ad-free programming and exclusive content that won’t be available anywhere else.
Subscribers can pay $5 per month to access every show available from Audible Channels. But if you pay $15 per month for an Audible membership (which includes one audiobook per month), Channels is a free add-on.
The first season of Serial is often touted as a breakthrough moment for podcasting, and in recent years we’ve seen the rise of podcast networks including Earwolf, Gimlet, and Panoply. But podcasting has been around for well over a decade. What’s relatively new(ish) is how much investment we’re starting to see in original programming from audio professionals.
Still, most podcasters make money the same way: through advertising. While networks like Gimlet claim they want to be the “HBO of podcasting” by offering high-quality products, Audible is taking a similar approach… and taking it a little more literally by charging a premium price for an ad-free experience.
Original programs will include series from comedian Eugene Mirman, advice columnist and radio host Dan Savage, Daily Show writer Elliot Kalan, and content from The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, The Onion, Smithsonian Magazine, Harvard Business Review and McSweeney’s.
New programs will roll out over time, and previews of some upcoming shows are already available. I’m particularly intrigued by a new show from Jon Ronson called “The Butterfly Effect.” While I’m reluctant to spend $5 per month for new podcasts when I already have a hard enough time keeping up on my favorite freely available programs, I’m totally tempted to pay to listen to Ronson’s show alone.
For the most part, Audible Channels seems like a great perk for folks who are already paying $15 per month for Audible, or considering signing up.