One of the biggest trends in the audiobook industry has been companies developing a respectable podcast portfolio in order to drive listeners to become paid audiobook customers. Audible and TuneIn Radio are dominating the US market, but in 2017 and smaller regional players are likely going to develop similar business models.
Podcasts in 2016 showed some strong gains on both a monthly basis (17% to 21%) and weekly (10% to 13%). Those who consume podcasts on a weekly basis listened to an average of five podcasts per week.
Audible does not like the word podcasts, although the company features hundreds of them. Esther Bochner the senior PR manager at Audible told me “the original shows and series produced by Audible and available in Audible Channels aren’t called podcasts – as we find that the term is limiting in terms of customer expectations as to the scope of our content offering. Channels also includes stand-up comedy, performed fiction and nonfiction, lectures, audio editions of newspaper and magazine articles, meditations etc – many of which would never be considered podcasts, so we use the much broader language of original audio series and original audio show to categorize our content overall so as not to confuse customers.”
She went on to say “I can tell you that at Audible we are always looking for ways to attract new listeners and draw new people to the format, whether that means introducing podcast listeners to our own original and audiobook programming, or introducing our longtime audiobook listeners to short-form programming to enjoy in between audiobooks to enjoy Audible during more of their days.”
TuneIn Radio has 5.7 million podcasts in their portfolio and they recently unveiled technology so people can listen to them offline, without a cellular data or wifi connection. The offline listening experience, in addition to encrypted playback, will add approximately 15-20k audiobooks in the directory in the first or second quarter of 2017.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.