The announcement comes days after Co nde Nast Entertainment named Chris Bannon as head of global audio, continuing what it describes as an ongoing transformation of Conde Nast’s studio and distribution network, which produces entertainment content across film, television, premium digital video, social, virtual reality and OTT channels.
“New York Times Audio” will offer listeners an accessible and authoritative way to understand the world, the company said today. It will draw from Times podcasts and Times articles, plus third-party sources, such as New York magazine and Rolling Stone, audio formats from the Times newsroom and more.
The new product will also feature the archive of "This American Life," encompassing 25 years of episodes from the iconic show that pioneered a new form of audio narrative journalism.
The anticipated first step for the New York Times Audio app is recruiting testers to participate in the product. It will be available as an iPhone app in a private beta. Those interested in testing the beta may request an invitation here, though space is limited.
The Times has also begun experimenting with programming more signature audio stories in its core news app, adding a new dimension to the news experience. Last month, the Times introduced “Listen,” a tab in its news app that features a selection of signature Times stories read aloud by the reporters who wrote them.
It’s little wonder that big-name publishers are investing in the audio channel. The podcast industry is in a particularly innovative moment — from content creation by publishers and hosts to listener discovery. And while podcasts have been around for nearly two decades, the format has only just entered the mainstream.
Podcast listener numbers are projected to grow dramatically this year as the market for on-demand audio increases. In 2021, the number of monthly U.S. podcast listeners will increase by 10.1% year-over-year, to 117.8 million, according to Insider Intelligence.
On the advertising side, the growth is also significant. Even through the pandemic decelerated podcast ad-spending growth, the annual spend is on track to see overall growth. Ad spending is projected to increase by 38.7% in 2021. In just two years, U.S. podcast ad spending will have nearly doubled, from $701.0 million in 2019 to $1.33 billion in 2021.