Fictional frontier. Netflix has announced its first scripted podcast: The Only Podcast Left will drop on 7 November, and it’s a fictional companion to a new zombie show on the streaming service called Daybreak. The release is also part of a deal with Spotify, because this show will be exclusive there for a month before hitting other platforms on 12 December.
Nick wrote a piece for Vulture back in June about Netflix’s existing podcast stable, and it’s worth revisiting that in light of this news. So far, the company’s shows have stayed firmly in the branded/additional content space, with behind the scenes interviews and commentary of Netflix shows.
This fictional series is a new departure — it’s also a companion show of a kind, but not in the way that we’ve seen HBO do with Chernobyl or countless other examples. It’s a spinoff of the same story and characters that are in the TV show, but it uses audio as its medium. Obviously this will be a test run of sorts, and Netflix will be monitoring closely to see how well the podcast delivers, but it’s not hard to imagine this setup being rolled out for other Netflix Originals too, especially if the writing talent is already on the books.
I would imagine there are two ways of assessing the success of this project: it could either bring existing audio fiction fans into conflict with Daybreak and encourage them to take out a Netflix subscription to watch it, or it could hook existing subscribers further into their enjoyment of the show and make sure they keep paying for the streaming service into the future. Could be a potentially canny brand extension.
Speaking of Spotify: they’ve just launched a new app called Spotify for Kids as a beta in Ireland. There’s a full feature write up with screenshots over at The Verge, which explains that it requires a Spotify Premium Family subscription and might finally solve the problem of a child wrecking their parent’s recommendations with repeated plays of the Moana soundtrack.
It’s essentially a stripped back version of the standard Spotify Premium experience, showing only tracks selected by Spotify as being appropriate for kids (around 6,000 of them so far). There’s also a younger and older kid option, meaning that if you so choose, a tween can bop along to Ariana Grande but a six year old can’t.
No word yet on whether Spotify for Kids will make a big play with podcasts, but it would make sense if the curated playlists included spoken word audio aimed at children. I’m sure all those who make audio for kids will be hoping this beta gets rolled out more widely so they can see how many listeners it might drive.
How to guides. PRX and Google have rolled out another element of their partnership on accessibility in the form of a series of video guides called Podcasting 101. Fronted by Today, Explained’s Sean Rameswaram and Rants and Randomness’s Luvvie Ajayi, the videos cover all aspects of putting out a podcast from scripting to recording to editing. There are full transcripts as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Hindi and Arabic.
This series comes via the Google Podcasts Creator Program, which launched at Third Coast last year. The tie up exists as a selective training system for would be podcasters from around the world, with the intention of spreading US-based expertise in the form more widely through the global audio industry. I interviewed both PRX’s Kerri Hoffman and Google Podcasts’ Zack Reneau-Wedeen last year about it — you can read their answers in full here.
Going global. As we’ve seen with various advertising and distribution deals recently, the non-US segment of the podcast world is starting to get a bit more attention. Another small indicator of this trend comes via Soundtrap, the podcast creation platform owned by Spotify, as they launch versions of their transcription software in French, Spanish, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Portuguese and Swedish.
Soundtrap for Storytellers actually began life as a music collaboration tool, but has since pivoted to podcasting. A subscription gives the user access to a remote, multitrack interviewing system, interactive transcripts and text-to-audio editing, and access to a sound effects library — it’s very much an all in one solution for the amateur podcaster. Expanding it beyond just those working in English is a customer acquisition move, I would guess. Although I wrote about it back in May I’m still not totally clear how Soundtrap fits into the wider Spotify podcasting strategy. It pushes users towards hosting with Anchor and distributing on the parent company’s app, but otherwise seems to sit mostly by itself.
Also going global. If you’re paying attention to how many impeachment podcasts have cropped up so far, you might also be interested to note how many UK outlets pivot to daily election/Brexit coverage now that we’re going to the polls for a general election in December. I think it’s reasonable to assume that existing daily current affairs shows from big outlets like the Guardian, the Economist and the Evening Standard will use their current infrastructure to do campaign reporting, but I was also interested to see that The Political Party, an independent politics show made by comedian Matt Forde, will be going daily from 11 November to cover the election.
This show launched in 2013 as a monthly live event that mixed political stand up with interviews with politicians, and Forde has since developed it into a weekly show that is sometimes recorded in a studio and sometimes on stage. “I love elections and I wanted to cover this one in more detail than a weekly show allowed. I’ll cover the campaign in a way that no-one else will,” Forde said on Twitter. I’m glad to see that someone is making hay out of our current political turmoil; Forde is also adding more dates for his standup show “Brexit, Pursued By A Bear”.