Independent podcast hosting platform Acast has partnered with Amazon Music to provide ad-free podcasts available for Prime members with no additional cost.
The announcement follows Amazon Music’s initiative to expand into more podcast audio content for its members. Amazon Music has purchased all ad inventory across over 1,000 Acast podcasts, meaning listeners will be able to access them ad-free on the application, which will in return diversify the revenue stream for both Acast and its creators.
“Monetization in the podcasting space has diversified massively in recent years,” said CEO of Acast, Ross Adams. “At Acast, a key part of our mission is to enable podcasters to make money from their craft in as many ways as possible. This deal allows us to spread the wealth in our industry to even more of our shows.”
Other ad-free shows that will be available to browse through on Amazon Music include premium episodes from The New York Times, NPR, CNN, ESPN and the full catalogue of Wondery podcasts. More features include Amazon-exclusive series with big names like Baby, This Is Keke Palmer – which dropped on the day of the announcement – and app features designed to make podcast discoverability easier, such as the ability to play previews from episodes to sample content.
“We looked at and talked to customers about, ‘What is it that you want?’ The number one thing was, ‘Can you make it ad-free?’,” said Amazon VP Steve Boom in a podcast interview with The Verge. “There are different types of podcasts, and in some cases ads are more disruptive than others.
“When you’re hearing a narrative story and an ad comes up right in the middle of the story, it’s quite disruptive. If it’s more of a talk-radio-style type of podcast, I think ads are honestly not as disruptive. I think you can take a little more nuanced approach.”
Amazon also acquired independent podcast network Wondery in December 2020 as part of the company’s expansion into curating more podcast content. CEO of Wondery Jen Sargent recently told Variety in an interview that Wondery-powered podcasts will be a huge part of expanding Prime’s consumers to more audio content.
“In my opinion, you know, podcasts are for everyone,” she said. “And there’s very little friction for consumers from a technical perspective to downloading and enjoying podcasts. So it seems like a natural place and extension that Amazon would go, given their already strong footprint in music and audiobooks podcasts.”
According to Boom, ad-free podcast listening will also allow the e-commerce giant to make subscription revenue only from Prime members. Meanwhile they will continue to distribute all Wondery podcasts broadly on their competitor’s platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts, which they see as a “big advertising opportunity”.
“We see an opportunity to build a big ads business, and that ads business is going to be at that scale; not by having everything exclusive on Amazon, but by actually having things continue to be distributed broadly,” said Boom.
In addition to new podcast features, Amazon Music prime members will also now have access to 100 million songs on the app on shuffle-mode and completely ad-free.