Audible Unveils Short Form Audio Streaming Service
In a move that further expands Audible Inc.’s reach beyond the audiobook market, the Amazon subsidiary has unveiled an on-demand, unlimited listening service called Channels. The ad-free service, which is free to Audible subscribers (and was rolled out to some members in beta this spring), features curated short-form audio. Non-subscribers can access the content for $4.95 a month.
Channels listeners will find a consistently updated roster of original programming and exclusive content that includes comedy, episodic programs, lectures, and narrated selections from newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post (owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos).
According to Audible executive v-p and publisher Beth Anderson, the content in Channels is “hand-selected” by a staff of editors and read by celebrities, authors, professional actors, and others. “Much like our audiobook and long-form original productions, the performer for each individual piece of content is chosen with tremendous care in order to achieve an outstanding listening experience,” she said.
Among the initial episodic offerings on Channels is “Presidents Are People Too,” which provides warts-and-all profiles of each American president and is hosted by Elliott Kalan, a former head writer for The Daily Show, and American historian Alexis Coe. “Authorized” is an Audible Original series that showcases authors sharing their most intimate firsts—from first rejection to first love. “Hot Mic with Dan Savage” is a no-holds-barred exploration of sex featuring true confessions offered live, on stage.
Eric Nuzum, a former programming v-p at NPR, leads the Channels team. Nuzum, who came to Audible in May 2015 as senior v-p of original content, was instrumental in establishing podcasting at NPR, but has said he came to Audible with different goals.
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.”
Anderson also believes that quality will drive subscription. “Channels is about creating an amazing ecosystem of quality listening experiences that become available with astounding regularity,” she said. She also noted that, because Channels is not supported by advertising, the service “opens a lot of doors for creators and enables us to focus on the content that we want to make, and the content we know our listeners want to hear.”
Channels, in Anderson’s vision, will build listenership in two ways. It will draw in listeners by providing audiobook subscribers with bonus content “to enjoy between audiobooks and in shorter spurts.” It will also, she believes, attract consumers who do not currently listen to audiobooks and “may not have considered long-form listening.”
NEWARK, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Audible Inc., the world’s largest seller and producer of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word entertainment, today announced the launch of Channels, an unlimited, advertising-free on-demand listening service featuring a consistently refreshed and thoughtfully organized collection of original programming and exclusive content including cutting-edge episodic programs, distinctive comedy, lectures and the best of audio periodicals.
“The Audible Channels team includes gifted creators who have come together in a way reminiscent of the vaudevillians and stand-up comedians who helped define the creative burst when radio began, and like the novelists who flocked to Hollywood to add elite professional-grade creativity to the birth of a new medium”
Channels is available as a free benefit for Audible Premium members, and can be purchased as a stand-alone offering for $4.95 a month.
“From our origins – harking back to the time when Audible commercialized the first digital audio player in 1997 and launched original short-form premium programming with Robin Williams in 2000 – we have believed the quality and character of everyday life would be enhanced by delivering the culture’s most compelling and artfully performed spoken words,” said Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz. “Channels is a natural extension of that founding premise, and we believe this new shorter-form service and the exciting original productions to come will become as popular and habit-forming as Audible’s audiobook service. It is a real pleasure to offer Audible Channels to our current and future Premium members as a free benefit.”
Channels will offer handpicked content in digestible shorter formats. Listeners can hear key audio selections from The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and The Onion; and they will find programs arrayed across general topics such as Science Fiction, Food, Comedy, Sports, History, and Leadership.
At launch, Channels programming available to hear includes “Presidents Are People Too,” a series that recasts each of the American presidents into real-life people complete with flaws, quirks, triumphs, scandals, and bodily ailments, hosted by former Daily Show writer Elliott Kalan and American historian Alexis Coe; exclusive audio renditions of The Onion; “Limelight,” which highlights the best new standup performances from comedy clubs across the country with rotating guest hosts such as T. J. Miller, Ron Funches and the Sklar Brothers; “Hold On with Eugene Mirman,” in which funny live stories are interrupted with new details divulged by even funnier special guests, such as Jim Gaffigan and “Weird Al” Yankovic; “Hot Mic with Dan Savage,” an exclusive no-holds-barred look at sex featuring true confessions performed live on stage; lectures from The Great Courses; and exclusive audio from Smithsonian Magazine, Harvard Business Review and McSweeney’s.
“The Audible Channels team includes gifted creators who have come together in a way reminiscent of the vaudevillians and stand-up comedians who helped define the creative burst when radio began, and like the novelists who flocked to Hollywood to add elite professional-grade creativity to the birth of a new medium,” Mr. Katz added. “Led by Eric Nuzum, whose talents and pioneering accomplishments speak for themselves, the team includes the creators of many of the industry’s most-listened-to podcasts, as well as original programming experts ranging across dramatic entertainment, documentaries and comedy of all stripes, along with producers and editors who understand how to deliver the most compelling news and lifestyle-focused programming.”
Beginning today, listeners can also access preview episodes or excerpts from forthcoming original programs including “The Butterfly Effect,” hosted by Jon Ronson; “Breasts Unbound,” in which science journalist Florence Williams delves into the mysteries of the human breast; “Mortal City,” a talk show on the street and on the fringe with crime reporter Kathleen Horan; and “Authorized,” in which authors share their most intimate firsts, from drafts to rejections, with up-and-coming media personality Ashley C. Ford.
New original programs will be debuted regularly.
To learn more about Audible Channels, visit: www.audible.com/getchannels.
ABOUT AUDIBLE, INC.
Audible, Inc., an Amazon.com, Inc. subsidiary (NASDAQ:AMZN), is the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet, offering customers a new way to enhance and enrich their lives every day. Audible was created to unleash the emotive music in language and the habituating power and utility of verbal expression. Audible content includes more than 300,000 audio programs from leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers. Audible is also the preeminent provider of spoken-word audio products for Apple’s iTunes® Store.
Esther Bochner, 973-820-0781
Take a Tour of Audible’s Big New Comedy Channel
Audiobook and spoken-word juggernaut Audible has announced that it is adding a slew of original comedy shows to its new platform, Audible Channels. Just launched in September, Channels allows users access to a catalog of carefully curated lectures, programs, and orated articles, and it’s constantly being updated. One of the most exciting channels on the entire platform is Comedy, and we’ve partnered up with Audible to give our readers an in-depth look at all the series and specials being offered. All week long we’ll be releasing articles about the new platform, giving you a unique opportunity to get to know everything Audible has to offer.
Take a tour of Audible’s new channel with us. Go ahead, get out your phone or mobile device, download the Audible app if you don’t already have it. Sign in with your Amazon Prime account, or Audible Membership or go ahead and grab a free trial Audible Membership for 30 days. Once you’re ready, look down to the bottom and click on channels. Now you can go to “Browse All Channels” and select comedy, but for now you won’t even have to do that because Audible has the comedy spotlight right on the front page.
Audible’s robust slate of comedy programming showcases the talents of some of our favorite voices, shows, and comedy clubs in the business. Three of the key series being offered are hosted by people we love: Nick Offerman, Eugene Mirman, and Will Arnett are some of the funniest people on the planet. Some of the other voices you can hear throughout the channel include T.J. Miller, Jackie Kashian, Roy Wood Jr., Reggie Watts, John Mulaney, Sean Patton, Maria Bamford, Tommy Chong, Lewis Black, Todd Barry, Aparna Nancherla, Rory Scovel, Gilbert Gottfried and the Sklar Brothers and that’s just a small sample.
The anchor show for the new launch, The Comedy Show Show, is hosted by one of the funniest people on television- five time Emmy nominated Will Arnett. Tune in for Arnett– he’s brilliant– but stick around for the chance to hear something you can’t hear anywhere else: local comedy concept shows given a chance to shine on a national platform.With a few small exceptions, if you want to hear recorded comedy, you are limited to hearing stand up. Pure stand up is the pinnacle of comedy listening, but today’s comedy fan doesn’t live on headliners and showcases alone. If you go out to see live comedy in your city, you are as likely to be checking out theme shows (roast shows, crowd work, improvised sets, talk shows, shows with specific topics) and those shows are a blast, and a chance to see your favorite artists step outside of their comfort zone. But there aren’t a lot of opportunities to see concept shows that are happening in other cities. The Comedy Show Show gives you the chance to explore shows happening in other cities as well as your own. Every week, a new theme show will be in the spotlight. Right now there’s only one episode so you haven’t fallen behind yet.
This week it’s Mark Normand and Matt Ruby’s annual Halloween hit show, Schtick or Treat, recorded live at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. Hear NYC’s hottest young comics “dress up” as iconic comedians by doing their best impressions. Click on the three dots next to the episode title to get more details on the episode, download it to your phone, or share it on social media. Or just click on the title to start streaming. Future episodes of The Comedy Show Show will include Bell Hop, a show we saw on the top floor of Chicago’s Virgin Hotel last summer’s A.V. Club Festival, Eliza Skinner’s comedy rap battle series, and Punderdome, a concept show that has been hailed by the New York Times as hilarious, with more to be announced. Follow The Comedy Show Show with Will Arnett, and you can become an expert on the hottest shows around the country without having to pony up for plane tickets. Love it? Click the plus sign in the title graphic on your phone and you’ll be following The Comedy Show Show and see all new episodes as soon as they’re available.
Speaking of concept shows, Hold On with Eugene Mirman is a brand new original series created exclusively for Audible that combines two different concepts happening in clubs around the country- storytelling and interrupting comedy. It brings a twist to the storytelling genre of comedy, breathing new life into classic great stories. Just back arrow back out to the featured page to find Hold On, and you’ll see there’s already 15 episodes to enjoy.
In each episode, host Eugene Mirman welcomes a new guest and selects a story they have told on stage. Mirman and his guest re-listen to the story together, but he’s always ready to stop the action and ask the storyteller questions, getting the comic to divulge new, never before shared details. In one episode, Mirman sits down with Reggie Watts and they listen to Watts tell his story about being on mushrooms with a free-spirited hippie girl, when suddenly, some unpleasant side effects of the mushrooms kick in. Mirman is not too shy to get all the details you want to know more about, but would never have the chance to ask. Other guests — Weird Al, Jim Gaffigan, Lisa Lampanelli, John Mulaney, Maria Bamford, John Fugelsang, Moshe Kasher, and many more — tell stories about taking drugs, being scared, dating, and bombing on stage. Not only is Eugene one of comedy’s most recognized voices (thanks to his role as Gene Belcher on Bob’s Burgers) but he’s also one of the most unique voices in comedy, so you know his questions are going to bring a whole new perspective to the stories in the series.
Bedtime Stories for Cynics might be our favorite series on the channel. These are bedtime stories that are inappropriate for kids. They are twists on your favorite childhood bedtime stories just for grown-ups. For each episode, host Nick Offerman teams up with a different comedian to bring these beautifully produced stories to life. Several of the stories were re-written by Dave Hill and that alone should be enough to interest you because Dave is kind of twisted and strange, and an amazing teller of fictional stories. But if you need more convincing, we promise you will want to hear Lewis Black telling the Dragon Slayer story (worth your time just to hear him say the dragon’s name Farvegnuggamemnon, over and over), Maria Bamford reading an all new twisted version of the story of Goldilocks, Tommy Chong reading the story of the Turtle and the Rabbit (yes, he’s doing character voices), and Brent Weinbach telling a modern-day version of Cinderella set in Los Angeles. These aren’t just comics telling old stories with a few fucks and shits thrown in. This is Audible theater, written by comedians and performed by comedians. There are four episodes available right now, with a new slate of four more coming in early December.
Two more series — Limelight and Sounds Like America –– both curate the voices of comics around the country. In Limelight, a great comic hosts each episode, covering a topic and sharing short clips from comics around the country talking about that topic. In one episode, T.J. Miller hosts and covers the topic of cluelessness, and he introduces pieces from Tommy Johnagin, Amy Anderson, Auggie Smith, and Andy Gold. In another episode, Rory Scovel covers comedy about school featuring Tom Segura, Chris Mata and Maronzio Vance, and Scovel hosts in character! What’s really interesting is how the shows are selected; Audible’s comedy team has gigantic databases of comedy material, and their experts choose a topic of interest, look at all the clips on topic, and then figure out which comics are not only funny, but have the most interesting take on that topic. So you’re just as likely to hear your favorite comic show up during an episode of Limelight as you are to hear a totally new voice, that you aren’t already familiar with. Each episode’s host becomes more of a guide to the topic than an emcee- not only introducing each of the comics and commenting on the material you’ll be hearing, but also adding their own take to the episode’s topic.
The best way to describe Sounds like America is to call it a comedy collage that delves into the American experience and what that means in different parts of the country. It’s a really unique series, drawing on the experience that road dogs have traveling from city to city. Nobody knows better than road comics about the similarities and differences between Americans living in different parts of the country. And in a post-election world, there’s no better time to take interest in what the hell is happening across the United States. This series brings all of those disparate viewpoints to life through hosts like Jackie Kashian, Rob Delaney, Roy Wood Jr., and Michelle Buteau. Each episode combines stand-up clips, music, thoughts and short interviews with other comedians, all covering a region or event. Some of the episodes include “The Midwest,” “New York City” and “Elections”. Doing stand-up in New York City is like doing an international lap dance, Michelle Buteau explains in her intro to covering New York City, and that’s the type of unique analysis you can look forward to as you get to know each region through the eyes of your favorite comedians.
And that’s only the beginning. There’s also Hot Mic with Dan Savage, collecting stories about lust, longing and lewd behavior with the infamous sex columnist, TimothyMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency which brings literary humor to your mobile device, plus plenty of comedy specials and albums, the best of Risk! Live, the Onion Audio News, How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black plus new series to be announced.
All the shows are available on demand, meant to be enjoyed anytime and anywhere you have access to the internet — or, like a podcast, you can download episodes to listen to when you’re off the grid. Everything is accessible via the Audible app, and it’s free for Amazon Prime members or anyone who is already an Audible subscriber. If you aren’t already signed up for Amazon Prime or Audible Membership, a subscription to Channels is only $4.95 a month. Or you can try Audible Membership free for 30 days. Check out the trailers for several of the new series, and get more information, at Audible.com.
Audible is re-imagining what is possible, creatively, in the area of on-demand audio, and there’s lots more to come. There are great performances happening all over the country in clubs large and small. Audible’s comedy channel takes the gigantic comedy world and pulls it all in close allowing you to digitally travel the country and hear more great comedy than ever before.
Read more about our Featured Partner, Audible, and their new comedy channel all week, here.
Nick Offerman on his new show: “There’s no attempt to go with mainstream popular culture”
The “Parks and Recreation” actor talks about “Bedtime Stories for Cynics” and the shock of Trump’s election
Audiobook giant Audible has just announced a new set of comedy shows including “The Comedy Show Show with Will Arnett,” “Hot Mic with Dan Savage,” and “Bedtime Stories for Cynics,” a stand-up comedy show called “Limelight” and a humor show based on the magazine McSweeney’s. The shows will be part of the company’s Audible Channels package.
Offerman hosts “Bedtime Stories for Cynics.” The burly actor, of course, is best known for his role as woodworking, single-malt sipping libertarian Ron Swanson on the show “Parks and Recreation.” In his Audible series, he introduces actors and comedians like Lewis Black, Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford and Tommy Chong to tell their twisted tales, some of which are riffs on classic stories like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
Salon spoke to Offerman, who was in Los Angeles. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
So where did the idea for the show come from? Was it yours? And what were you trying for as you cooked it up?
Well, I love working with Audible doing books. And considering the subject matter, they figured, “We need someone who is just shy of putting our listeners to sleep.”
Right, these are bedtime stories.
So I think that’s how they think of me. I was tickled to be asked to take part. I’m a big fan of the participants.
Let’s talk about some of them. You are a presenter, here and do the introductions but let other people tell the stories. What are you looking for in the people who write and tell these grim bedtime tales?
Well, these are some of the best comic minds working. I love the sort of underground feeling of it; there’s a darkness to some of these stories. There’s no attempt to go with mainstream popular culture. That’s just never as funny as the slightly unhinged collection of writers and readers we have.
The ones I’ve listened to have a lot of dirty words, violence, gross stuff — especially the Goldilocks episode. Were you guys trying to write stuff that was as far as you could get from a standard kid’s fairy tale or bedtime story?
I don’t think there was any particular agenda to distance ourselves. It was kind of like an improv comedy game: Take any watered-down children’s story and add the most fucked-up twist you can.
Right, try to make it funny and outrageous however you can do it.
Yeah, taking a presumably safe and comforting medium and turning it on its ear. Because it’s very funny.
You do the introductions here. What’s that guy like? Is the guy who welcomes everyone to story time really you or is he a Ron Swanson kinda guy? Or is it something else entirely?
No, nothing I ever do will be a Ron Swanson kinda guy. Ron Swanson was written by people a lot smarter than me. And I feel like this is much more like a cracked Orson Welles: There’s an avuncular quality but in this case your uncle might seem a little creepy, but he’s probably going to have a little bit of weed in his pipe. He’ll tell you some things you might not have known. He’ll take you up to the line but won’t cross it.
Right. But it sounds like you can’t just slip into a Ron Swanson persona. If you were on stage at [Los Angeles club] Largo or at dinner joking around with friends and family, you can’t just “do that character” off the top or your head.
Well, I choose not to. . . . I would happily play Ron for decades if Mike Schur was still producing the show. And I can easily put on a Ron Swanson sensibility for a brief statement — like “I would not like any chutney on my sandwich, thank you very much.” I can give the flavor. But people sometimes ask me, Can you do Ron on some topic? A brief statement? And I say, “No, he doesn’t entirely belong to me. And I’m simply not clever enough to write him as well as the writers.”
For a lot of us in California, where Trump has very little support, it’s been a startling and rough couple of days. Did the election take you by surprise at all?
Certainly it was a devastating surprise. I have a lot of really strong feelings about it, but I’m trying to suppress them and take a deep breath. For those of us who are progressively minded, who cast our vote for human decency rather than some sort of childish vengeance, I think we’re doing a pretty good job of making our absolute dissension known without resorting to the hatred or violence that are the hallmarks of Trump supporters.
It’s funny. I wrote a tweet that said, “This is very shameful that we’ve made this decision, I’m embarrassed for the country.” And Trump supporters jumped all over me and said, “I can’t believe all this hate you’re spewing.”
You intolerant liberal!
Yeah and called me all these names and cursed at me. . . . And the key to that is to not engage, not to get into a shouting match. They’re coming from a very emotional place; they’re not relying on rationality and logic. If they’re able to live in denial about all the transgressions of their candidate that have been documented — just during the campaign, not over his whole life — their blindness and tunnel vision is frightening.
But I am so encouraged by the rationality of our side. There was a letter printed this morning by [Amy Poehler’s “Parks and Recreation” character] Leslie Knope that brought tears to my eyes. It says, Look, we’re all human beings, there are times when we do stupid things. We’ve got to say, we really shit the bed on that one. Let’s all together and figure out what our next set of sheets is. Because I think we’re gonna have to burn the current bedding.
Audible Announces Comedy Shows with Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, More
Audible Channels, Audible’s suite of weekly-updated audio programs (that are definitely not podcasts), has just announced a new lineup of comedy shows including comedians Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, T.J. Miller and more.
Arnett’s show, The Comedy Show Show, will be the lineup’s anchor, being described as a “hilarious all-access pass to the hottest thematic comedy shows around the country.”
Arnett said of the show:
I’m excited to see The Comedy Show Show take off because of the amazing platform that Audible is creating with Channels. The opportunity for creative and inventive stand-up comedy to gain exposure and build momentum among Audible’s voracious listener base, and to be part of a growing roster of other incredibly high quality and entertaining shows, is gratifying. Why don’t you go ahead and slip into something more comfortable while I make sure Audible brings you some of the best live themed comedy shows from all over this big, long, fully aroused … country.
Also among the new shows, accessible through the Audible app, are Bedtime Stories for Cynics,, a show for innapropriate children’s stories hosted by Nick Offerman; Hold On, in which host Eugene Mirman will cover live stories with the help of special guests; and Hot Mic, a series about sex and love from Dan Savage. Other comedians that have been featured on Audible’s shows include John Mulaney, Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, Mike Birbiglia and Kumail Nanjiani.
Audible Chief Content Officer Andy Gaies said of the new lineup of shows:
Creating a dedicated platform for comedy shows within Audible Channels allows our listeners to discover a quality and quantity of content they won’t be able to find anywhere else. Audible’s access to comedy shows throughout the country and deep roots in the comedy world allow us to surface the best talent coming out of clubs nationwide. The sheer volume of comedic voices that contribute to these shows set them apart in the audio space, and we are proud to offer these rich listening experiences within Channels.
Will Arnett’s ‘Comedy Show Show’ & More Set On Audible
The series, which can be accessed via the Audible app, include the first season of Bedtime Stories for Cynics, presented by Nick Offerman, featuring inappropriate children’s stories for adults; Hold On with Eugene Mirman, with guests including “Weird Al” Yankovic, Jim Gaffigan and Lisa Lampanelli among others; Hot Mic with Dan Savage, a collection of awkward, poignant and hilarious stories about lust, longing, and lewd behavior hosted by the sex advice columnist.
Also available are the first season of Sounds Like America, hosted by a rotating cast of comics; Limelight, featuring stand-up shows from comedy clubs around the country; Audible Comedy Specials featuring highlights from comedy festivals and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, featuring dramatic performances of pieces from McSweeney’s literary humor site
Other comedians featured in the above programs include Gilbert Gottfried, John Mulaney, Patton Oswald, Rob Delaney, Tommy Chong, Maria Bamford, Jackie Kashian, Mike Birbiglia and Lisa and Kumail Nanjiani.
“I’m excited to see The Comedy Show Show take off because of the amazing platform that Audible is creating with Channels,” said Arnett. “The opportunity for creative and inventive stand-up comedy to gain exposure and build momentum among Audible’s voracious listener base, and to be part of a growing roster of other incredibly high quality and entertaining shows, is gratifying.”
“Creating a dedicated platform for comedy shows within Audible Channels allows our listeners to discover a quality and quantity of content they won’t be able to find anywhere else,” said Audible Chief Content Officer Andy Gaies. “Audible’s access to comedy shows throughout the country and deep roots in the comedy world allow us to surface the best talent coming out of clubs nationwide. The sheer volume of comedic voices that contribute to these shows set them apart in the audio space, and we are proud to offer these rich listening experiences within Channels.”
Introduced earlier this year, Audible Channels features a selection of original programs, lectures, and audio editions of standout articles and news from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Foreign Affair, Charlie Rose, The Onion, and other leading periodicals. Audible Channels is free with an Audible membership and to Amazon Prime members, and also available to purchase as a standalone for $4.95 a month.
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Hot Mic With Dan Savage
Dan Savage isn’t just a notable journalist and activist; he’s also one of the funniest men alive. And now he brings his talents to the new Audible show Hot Mic With Dan Savage. The program, both comedic and touching, features the best live storytelling talent from around the nation, with Savage adding his own commentary, in what’s touted as an NSFW version of The Moth. Subjects include first kisses, first times, gender, orgies, sex work, and more. Find all the episodes, with a new one premiering each week, at Audible.com.