Audible is expanding outside of audiobooks in a big way. It’s launching a new service today called Channels, which offers short-form news and podcasts for people who’d rather not listen slowly through an entire book.
Channels will include spoken recordings of news from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and, of course, Audible’s not-quite-step-sibling, The Washington Post, among others. There will also be more entertaining content, featuring everything from standup comedy and Onion articles to horror, sports, and celebrity channels.
Audible is also building out a selection of exclusive podcasts and shows, with perhaps the most notable being a new series from Dan Savage. Other original programming will launch at a later date and include talk shows and journalistic investigations.
Existing Audible subscribers will get all of this content for free — many of them already have been getting it for free, as Channels has been rolling out in “beta” for months now. What’s more interesting is that Audible is now opening Channels up independently, offering a standalone subscription for $4.95 per month. That’s much cheaper than Audible’s standard $14.95 subscription, which (aside from the addition of Channels) offers only a single audiobook per month.
The launch of Channels could make Audible more appealing all around. For subscribers to Audible’s full service, it offers shows that could pad out your commute each month after finishing up an audiobook. But perhaps more importantly, offering Channels alone allows Audible to target a whole new segment of listeners, going after people who have time to fill but aren’t interested in hearing a whole book.