Audible’s paid user listening hours up 39%

Audible is actively expanding its content library, forming partnerships and enhancing its cultural relevance

Lata Jha
Updated17 Jul 2023
Shailesh Sawlani, country manager, India – Audible
Shailesh Sawlani, country manager, India – Audible

New Delhi: India emerged as one of the fastest growing market in 2022 for Audible, the online audiobook service owned by Amazon, with 39% growth in paid member listening hours over 2021. Since launching its services in November 2018, Audible has operated both free and paid tiers, offering content in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Urdu and Bengali. The platform’s paid subscription, at 199 per month, allows users one credit per month that can be used to access one book of their choice.

“We’re still in early days of building (the audio listening) category in India but expanding rapidly as we diversify our offerings beyond book adaptations to appeal to non-readers as well and find ways to localize in the regional languages,” said Shailesh Sawlani, country manager, India, Audible, in an interview. Increasingly, especially for free tier, the audience has been skewed towards non-readers, he added.

Audible is actively expanding its content library, forming partnerships and enhancing its cultural relevance. In February, it announced an association with Marvel Entertainment to bring a Hindi Audible Original podcast series, Marvel’s Wastelanders, with Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sharad Kelkar, Masaba Gupta, Jaideep Ahlawat, Prajakta Koli and Mithila Palkar, lending their voice.

The first instalment of the franchise, Marvel’s Wastelanders: Star-Lord is streaming on the service. The platform has also launched , Social Distancing, an Audible Original written by Chetan Bhagat, with a cast featuring Neha Dhupia and Angad Bedi. Last month, it launched Desi Down Under, an audio series voiced by Prajakta Koli, Taaruk Raina and Adarsh Gourav.

Sawlani said it is attempting to make the platform culturally relevant in terms of content and messaging by bringing adaptations of known IPs (intellectual properties). Audible has collaborated with video streaming creators The Viral Fever and Dice Media to adapt their web originals into audio shows, including three seasons of Permanent Roommates, Adulting: It’s a Jungle Out There as well as Little Things: Jab Dhruv Met Kavya, which emerged as the most listened show on its service in 2022.

Furthermore, Audible has released Neil Gaiman’s Sandman in Hindi, with a voice cast featuring Tabu, Manoj Bajpai and Vijay Verma. It is working with author Amish Tripathi to bring War of Lanka, Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta, Anand Neelakantan’s Vanara and Valmiki's Women for audio adaptations of his books.

“In India, genres like non-fiction, or topics such as managing money or startup spaces are doing well. As is self-development and mythology, which is evident in Ankur Warikoo’s content or adaptations of Tripathi’s work.” Sawlani said there was much scope to cater to regional language listeners.

Audio series are the most preferred audio content format, accounting for 41% of overall consumption, according to a recent survey by audio OTT platform, Pocket FM. Music followed closely at 29%, while audiobooks and podcasts were preferred by 20% and 10% of internet users, respectively.

The audio streaming market in India includes players such as Spotify, JioSaavn and Amazon Music, among others, though the last two only stream music.

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