Publishers Weekly has a piece looking at Audible’s new “Channels” unlimited listening service. Free to Audible subscribers and $4.95 per month to everyone else, this program offers selections of short fiction and nonfiction content, listenable via the Audible audio app.
But don’t call them “podcasts.” Channels head Eric Nuzum, Audible’s senior v-p of original content, prefers to talk about the program in other terms.
In an April 2016 interview with Nicholas Quah for Quah’s Hot Pod newsletter about podcasts, Nuzum said: “I’m not at Audible to build podcasts. I’m at Audible to start a revolution. In the way audio is produced, and in the way audio is distributed.” And, speaking with Current last May, Nuzum likened Channels to HBO in terms of a general model, saying that the new service would have “that same sense of quality and level of craft” and be “a place where listeners are willing to pay for both creation and curation.”
So, they’re not podcasts, they’re just created and curated short audio programs that you listen to on your mobile device. Like, y’know, podcasts.
Audible hopes that this new program will give audiobook listeners additional content to enjoy between books, and might draw in people who who don’t listen to audiobooks but might enjoy shorter segments of content. The selection seems interesting enough, but you do have to download the Audible iOS, Android, or Windows app to hear it—you can’t play it from the web site. (Though if you’re running Windows 10 on your desktop, it’s not much of a hardship to download the Audible Windows app, and it works just fine.)
It’s inarguable that Audible is largely responsible for bringing commercial audiobooks into the digital era, but it’s a little too late for this service to make much of a difference when it comes to the way people listen to podcasts. Still, it will give subscribers a little something extra for the money they already pay Audible, and judging from Amazon Prime, that seems to be the sort of thing Amazon likes doing a lot.