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Audible Update

As I mentioned yesterday, I had mostly dedicated the week to working on longish followup piece on the Audible developments thinking through the audiobook company’s position following the restructure that largely removed the team responsible for shorter-form podcast-style programming. And I had planned to publish the piece today in front of the paywall as an extra Hot Pod issue.

But I had a sense we would see some messaging from Audible, and that it would be wise for me to hold steady for at least the rest of the week. That turned out to be a pretty decent move.

Two updates of note:

  • On Tuesday, shortly after the newsletter went out, an Audible spokesperson confirmed that The Butterfly Effect with Jon Ronson and Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel had seasons already in production and that they would, indeed, be released over the Audible platform in the fall. This was in response to a question I raised in this week’s column: “What happens to all the podcast-style Audible Original programs that are still ongoing? What happens to their future seasons currently in production?” The third question I raised — “will those properties be given the opportunity to leave for other podcast companies, or will they be integrated into Audible’s new strategy in some form?” — remained more or less open. Until…
  • Yesterday, Broadcast, a British weekly magazine covering the radio industry, published an article with the headline: “Amazon’s Audible Plans Podcast Push.” The piece called Audible “Amazon’s audiobook and podcasting arm,” and noted that Kent DePinto, the Director of Content at Audible UK, has “set out her commissioning strategy for the first time, revealing plans to double down on intimate shows such as Where Should We Begin?, which features recordings of couples undergoing counselling with Belgian therapist Esther Perel.” Later in the article, Ronson’s show was also cited. “DePinto highlighted Jon Ronson’s porn-inspired seven-parter The Butterfly Effect as an example of the type of podcast that ‘blends creative thinking with data-driven insights,'” the piece wrote.

Did the company’s shorter-form podcast-style operations simply shift to the UK office? What on earth is going on?

I sent an inquiry to Audible, asking if the podcast push is limited to the UK. A spokesperson wrote back: “No, it is not limited to the UK. We launched a significant podcast program in Germany in the fall that continues to get a lot of attention. In the US, our content focus for Audible originals includes our theater initiative, narrative storytelling ‘written to the form’ (a la Michael Lewis) in addition to short-form programming. As you and I discussed, we will be announcing new seasons of Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin? & Ronson’s follow up to The Butterfly Effect this fall. Shortly we have a big announcement about our fall theater slate.”

Curious. More, on Tuesday.