Amazon’s Audible Goes Beyond Books to Chase Spotify in Podcasts

Under growing pressure from Spotify, the e-commerce giant is looking to spend big in podcast land 

In recent months, Audible, the audiobook service owned by Inc., has been meeting with talent agencies and producers to discuss acquiring potential new podcast projects—or, in the terminology that Audible prefers, “Audible Originals.” Audible is offering anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million dollars per show, according to people familiar with the matter, more than every competitor except Spotify Technology SA.

So far, Audible has already purchased shows from documentary producer John Battsek, as well as from comedians Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish. The acquisitions by the dominant audiobook service in the U.S. are part of a new, multimillion-dollar shopping spree, designed to establish Audible as a more enticing destination for podcast fans and to fend off growing audio-storytelling competition, particularly from Spotify.  

Audible has been funding original series for years now, but after starting with programs from well-known authors, the company is now prioritizing celebrity hosts and shows that can help broaden its audience beyond the avid audiobook listener.

“People aren’t listening to podcasts on Audible, and Amazon wants them to,” said Donald Albright, who runs Tenderfoot.TV, a boutique podcasting company that has done business with Audible in the past.