Amazon is all-in on podcasts, but has a long way to go

Amazon has been working for a while to enter and make a dent in the podcasting space. The company recently also acquired podcast.com and podcasting.com domains to demonstrate the intent.

The domains redirect to Audible (audible.com) right now. Amazon had acquired the audiobook service, Audible, in 2008. The service allows users to purchase and stream audiobooks and other forms of spoken word content – individually or under a subscription. Audible is, in fact, the largest audiobook producer and retailer in the US.

The Verge reports that the company has announced that the Audible catalog now contains 100,000 free podcasts. The shows are now available through the app and will soon show up on Audible’s podcast landing page. Listeners won’t need a subscription to access these shows.

Audible had launched a new subscription plan called Audible Plus in August, which gives listeners access to Audible’s original audio content at a cheaper monthly cost (without credits to download paid audiobooks, that is). The podcast catalog will now be an additional offering to add value to the affordable plan.

Amazon is looking to compete with Spotify and Apple Podcasts, the two biggest names in the fast-growing space, as well as other smaller competitors.

And itself.

Amazon Music app

Last month, Amazon Music launched its much-anticipated podcasts platform and the service is live in the US, the UK, Germany, and Japan. Podcasts are available on Amazon Music on the web, Amazon Music app on iOS and Android as well as on Amazon Echo devices.

Amazon Music has over 55 million customers globally. Podcasts are available to stream on all tiers of Amazon Music at no additional cost. Amazon claims that over 70,000 titles available, including originals and exclusives.

Both Amazon services aren’t podcast services in the traditional sense – there is no way to subscribe to unlisted podcasts via RSS feed, pretty much like Spotify. Amazon also is limited in terms of geographic reach, and hence the audience. Both Audible and Amazon Music offer podcasts in very select markets.

There are also some other diversions. In India for example, last year, Amazon launched Audible Suno – a free streaming service for unlimited access to exclusive audio content. Suno features shows hosted by some of India’s finest radio artists, comics, and entertainment professionals and the service is available completely free with no ads and no sign-up required. While there is a separate Audible Suno app available for Android, iOS users can listen to Audible Suno content on the primary Audible app.

Amazon’s experiments like Suno were expected to be an initiative to get Indians hooked to audio content and then upsell the premium Audible subscription. However, it has now led to an awkward position where Audible offers podcasts in many international markets but in India, there’s a separate channel for the same.

Amazon now has two horses in the race – Amazon Music and Audible. While with Amazon Music, like Spotify, the company aims to diversify from music to an audio streaming service, with Audible, it is looking to bulk up its spoken word content offerings. That said, both still have a long way to go to reach the scale of Spotify and Apple Podcasts – both in terms of breadth of the catalog as well as the reach.

Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq