The New York Times Audio app is a call to the heaviest podcast listeners

The New York Times is leveling his audio game. Today, the publication launched New York Times Audio, a subscriber iOS app that acts as a one-stop shop for all of its audio journalism — including its current lineup of podcasts such as The daily And The Ezra Klein Show. If you have a preference for a particular podcast platform like Spotify or Stitcher, don’t worry – the Timebiggest podcasts will still be available for free on other players.

Instead, the app appears to be an attempt by the Time to build a dedicated audience around all of its audio offerings – not just podcasts. It will serve as a home for even more audio journalism, including exclusive posts that the point of sale creates exclusively for the app.

This includes a daily 10 minute news summary called The headlines that publishes every morning and Shortswhich seems to be literal terribly short audio stories – less than 10 minutes – about culture, lifestyle, cooking and more. In addition, there will be a “Reporter reads” section Time journalists who read their own stories and provide additional commentary.

The audio exclusives are meant to sweeten the pot for power Time subscribers, helping the publication maintain its 9.7 million subscribers. The Time says it’s seen this formula work with newsletters, and it hopes to replicate it with audio as well.

“Particularly what we’ve seen with our subscriber-only newsletters is that subscribers who engage with them are better engaged and retained than those who don’t. This aligns with our belief that providing differentiated value with a Times subscription is good for our users and good for our business,” said Jordan Cohen, executive director of communications for The New York Timeswrote in an email to The edge.

There’s another financial benefit for the Gray Lady if the app takes off: it means it’ll have a valuable source of first-party listening data on its subscribers. And there may be even more ad monetization options later on. “[The paper] has the opportunity to explore partnerships with brands to sponsor app-specific shows and programs as more consumers become accustomed to ad-light, as opposed to ad-free, subscription options,” Paul Kelly, chief revenue officer of the audio ad- tech platform AMA, told The edge.

A screenshot of the New York Times Audio app for iOS.
Image: The New York Times

At first glance, the app itself has a sleek interface and is easy to use. There is an option to increase playback speed and download episodes. But as far as podcast players go, the app is still pretty basic. Adding custom accessibility features like written transcripts or the ability to share non-exclusive episodes (the latter appears to be on the way) could further increase the app’s audience.

The app opens to a “Today” tab, where listeners can find a playlist that is updated every day with new episodes of Shorts And The headlines. Listeners can also follow their favorite shows or create a custom playlist. Overall, the app does a good job at organizing a stretched out Amount of Time audio stories in one place – it never feels overwhelming or too busy.

According to Cohen, there are currently no plans to offer a lower-cost, audio-only subscription for New York Times Audio — the app is only available to All-Access and News subscribers. But it seems that the Time toyed with that idea prior to launch: the App Store listing mentions a $5 per month in-app subscription for audio content.

The Time has no plans to pull shows like The daily from other players such as Apple or Spotify. “We intend to remain a major publisher in that space,” Cohen wrote.

The Time has spent the last few years buying audio – acquiring Serial Productions (the podcast studio behind Serial) and sports news outlet The athletic (which has over 50 sports podcasts). It also formed an alliance with the syndicated radio program This American life and bought Audm, the subscription audio non-fiction app. The app will effectively host all of this content as well as the archives of shows like Serial And This American life.

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