February 20, 2006 9:00 PM PST

Audible nabs popular podcast

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The Ricky Gervais Show, one of the most popular podcasts on Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store, is moving to a paid-only format to be sold by audio book specialist Audible.

Audible plans to announce on Tuesday that it will start selling episodes of Gervais' show beginning with a new "season two" collection of episodes, which will begin next week. Audible will charge $1.95 per episode or $6.95 for the season, which will include at least four episodes by the creator and star of British television's "The Office." Audible's exclusive deal also runs for a "season three," which will start in the fall.

The move is the first major example of a free podcast attempting to go paid, said David Joseph, Audible's vice president of corporate communications and strategy. "We're helping Ricky to build a business so he can pay his people."

The move is part of Audible's pitch that it can help create more revenue for podcasts than is possible from a free MP3-based model. The company also claims technical advantages, such as the ability to easily move through chapters and the ability to have smaller file formats by using greater compression than is possible with MP3.

"There will be a little bit of controversy because everybody wants something for free," Joseph said. Gervais' half-hour show was the No. 4 most popular in Apple's Top 100 rankings on its podcast directory as of Monday. Audible said it expects to be able to sell the show through iTunes in addition to its own Web site. Apple partners with Audible to stock the audiobook section of iTunes.

Currently, Apple provides its podcasts and video podcasts for free, though it charges $1.99 an episode for TV shows and other video programs and 99 cents for music tracks.

Audible's software allows podcast creators not only to charge for their work, but alternatively or in addition, to definitively track how many free subscribers they have and include advertising based on their subscriber figures. Audible announced new podcast creation tools in November, though iTunes remains the hub of much of the podcasting world's attention. Gervais' show will not carry advertising, Joseph said.

In January, Apple added its own tools for making podcasts as part of GarageBand, the company's consumer audio editing program.

See more CNET content tagged:
Audible Inc., podcast, audio book, episode, Apple iTunes

9 comments

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Good luck with that
I dropped my Audible.com subscription a couple of months ago
because there's so much good, free content available on the web.
Plus, I didn't have time to listen to it all anyway.

So good luck with charging for a 'cast. I'm backed up enough on
plenty of other great listens I couldn't possibly justify paying for
anything at the moment. Maybe if they all go to crap though. ...
Posted by (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Is Audible looking for trouble?
I've found myself using Audible and Fictionwise less since more
content became available for the iPod. I will listen to or watch a
podcast or movie on my iPod instead of listening to a book, as I
used to do during my PDA days. My last PDA was a Palm
Tungsten C and I can't say I miss it at all.

Apple saved Audible's bacon by making it the favored audiobook
provider at the iTunes Music Store. It seems to me that Apple
might be offended by Audible taking popular podcasts from it.
Apple doesn't profit from podcasts, but they can attract buyers
of other content to iTMS.

I realize that Audible needs to do something to make up for loss
of PDA users as sells declined, but this maneuver looks like it
could get Audible in trouble with Apple.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yummy!
I would LOVE to pay for a Podcast....right after I yank my teeth through my intestines and right out of my arse.
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Reply Link Flag
FREE FREE FREE.....
Never going to pay for any net content again...havent paid for a CD since 1998, app or DVD. Surely WONT pay for Podcast. Just saddens me that so many people will pony up for it, but I am sure someone will then share it on a P2P network for FREE! Muhahaha...sorry a very childish rant! lol
Posted by zincmann (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yeesh
You have not actually purchased one piece of content or
software this century and you are proud of this fact? Way to put
it to the man! I sure hope all those software developers,
musicians, actors, writers and directors enjoy working for free.
You know what kind of software and content we would get if no
one actually got paid to produce it? When you are sitting in your
hovel watching home made videos of people falling down their
stairs on your virus-laden crap PC while listening to your
neighbor's recording of himself on the pan flute and playing
hangman on your X-Box 2010 you can toast yourself for killing
several productive and entertaining industries at once! Bravo.
Posted by fronch (1 comment )
Link Flag
Comment from Audible seem unfriendly
"There will be a little bit of controversy because everybody wants something for free," Joseph said.

The fact that Audible is in business would seem to indicate that people are willing to pay for content. Of course everybody "wants" things for free. Who doesn't? It's a silly comment at face value. However, it seems to imply that people -insist- on things being free. This obviously isn't the case, or there wouldn't be an Audible at all, let alone iTunes with a gajillion downloads, Napster subscriptions, etc.

Note to content sellers: Stop provoking your potential customers, and get the chip off your shoulder.

-ee
Posted by earlrevans (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
IMO, there will be no controversy
I think the only effect of moving to Audible will be a freefall of the Ricky Gervais Show from #4 on iTunes to Ricky who?
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
pod
I'm not paying for junk eitther.
Posted by paulsecic (298 comments )
Link Flag
revenue from podcasting
Im involved with producing an up-and-coming podcast and would like to avoid using advertisements. Ive come across SubscribeCast Technologies that supposedly can provide a way to charge customers as well as track use and abuse of the RSS feeds. Im looking to find other companies that provide this in order to make a decision on which one to go with. Has anyone heard of SubscribeCast or know of any other way to fund a podcast without using advertiseing? Any thoughts would be appreciated!
Posted by nic_brisbane (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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