Audiobook Subscriptions: Audible and Podimo Join Storytel in Spain

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Quickly jumping from one to three major unlimited-subscription services for audio content, Spain’s publishing market for streaming is growing fast, says Dosdoce consultant Javier Celaya.

Landing page artwork from Audible Spain’s home page. Image: Audible.es

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Great News for the Whole Publishing Sector’
As Spain’s book publishing industry watches the arrival of Audible.es and the opening of Podimo, the streaming-audio unlimited subscription offer is entering a three-way battle that Dosdoce’s Bilbao-based consultant Javier Celaya tells Publishing Perspectives today (September 21) will float all boats.

The Stockholm-based Storytel has a three-year start on Podimo and Audible in the market, Celaya points out, setting the stage for unlimited access as the key to consumer attraction.

Those who know Audible’s subscription offer in some other markets including the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany, know that the offer there is a one-credit-per-month model for a single audiobook per month. But in the Spanish market, the offer is for unlimited listening, not least “because of the high penetration of this kind of consumption services here in Spain,” Celaya says.

Podimo logoAmazon’s Audible announces that it has 70,000 titles for unlimited listening, and provides a free 30-day trial.

Podimo, based in Copenhagen, stresses its podcasts and is giving itself a jump on Audible’s entry, having opened within the past week. With a management team comprising Morten Strunge, Nikolaj Koppel, Sverre Dueholm, Andreas Sachse and Eva Lægdsgaard, you may well find Strunge’s name jumping out at you. He founded Mofibo in 2014, another unlimited digital subscription platform, and he spent a couple of years on Storytel’s board when Jonas Tellander bought Mofibo.

Celaya is advising the entry into Spain of Podimo, which Strunge founded in April 2019 with colleagues Nikolaj Koppel, Sverre Dueholm, Andreas Sachse and Eva Lægdsgaard. Celaya is not working with Audible on its Spanish arrival, but he has in the past worked with Storytel. As Publishing Perspectives readers know, he’s a speaker in the Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Frankfurt Conference program focused on audio, on October 15.

Audible’s decision to use an unlimited model in Spain, Celaya says, “implies that Audible won’t be able to offer Penguin Random House titles to their unlimited customers, since PRH decided earlier this year to withdraw all its ebooks and audiobooks from streaming subscription platforms worldwide,” including Bookbeat, Beek, Scribd, Storytel, Nextory, and Ubook.”

And Audible already has Audible Latino for the Latin American Spanish-language consumer markets.

Podimo’s premium offer includes 120 exclusive podcasts monthly—more than 2,000 original podcasts annually. And its  subscription, at €3.99 (US$4.69) per month offers “a wide selection” of audiobooks in Spanish, tens of thousands of Spanish podcasts and as many as 650,000 podcasts in English, as well as unlimited online and offline listening.

‘Unstoppable in This New Decade’

Image: From the premium subscription page at Podimo.com/es

In five years, Celaya says, a certain myth has been smashed in Spain’s marketplace where it used to be said that streaming services wouldn’t fly. Instead, he says, his research shows streaming services generating some €15 million annually (US$17.6 million).

Javier Celaya

And since Storytel’s entry into the market in October 2017, Javier says 150,000 users paying users have been attracted by Storytel, Nubico, Kobo, and Scribd. There’s also, he says, a move to subscription models by news media including El Pais, El Mundo, El Correo, and others, for an aggregate 400,000-user subscriber base.

What’s more, in film and television subscriptions, there appears to be an answer to piracy: “Nearly 10 million households in Spain–more than 23 million users–have stopped illegally downloading movies and television series, becoming subscribers of Netflix, HBO, Filmin, and/or Movistar,” he says.

As he told Bookwire’s audience in its “All About Audio” program in June, Celaya forecasts streaming digital content’s growth in the Spanish market to be “unstoppable in this new decade.

“The category of audiobooks and podcasts,” he says, “will grow very quickly in Spain in the coming months as the main unlimited streaming platforms—Audible, Storytel and Podimo—will invest a lot of money in marketing and advertising campaigns to encourage thousands of people to try these services for the first time.

“The launch of Audible in Spain is great news for the whole publishing sector, even for its direct competitors, because jointly they will further foster the growth of audiobook and podcast streaming in the Spanish-language markets.”Javier Celaya, Dosdoce

 

As with Netflix, subscription platforms with unlimited access to thousands of audiobooks and podcasts create new consumption habits, create new audiences, and create new markets.”

Subscription platforms prevail in Spain and Latin America’s markets as the main channels for audiobooks, accounting for an aggregate 83 percent of sales in the audiobook format.

And Celaya expects the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic boost of audiobook demand to help fuel an ongoing elevated rate of sales. While no one is sure at this point how much the intensified digital-content market may linger and influence a vaccinated future, Celaya reports that from 2018 to 2019, Spain’s and Latin America’s markets saw a six-time increase in subscription revenues for publishers.

And in libraries, he says, audiobook demand has prompted a one-year growth from 2 to 4 percent of total sales in a single year.

“The launch of Audible in Spain,” Celaya says, “is great news for the whole publishing sector, even for its direct competitors, because jointly they will further foster the growth of audiobook and podcast streaming in the Spanish-language markets.”

Image: From Storytel Spain’s landing page, Storytel.com/es

And at this writing, Spain continues to be one of Europe’s hardest hit markets in the recent resurgence of the coronavirus. In its 4:23 ET a.m. update (0823 GMT), the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center cites Spain with the ninth highest caseload in the world. The infection count at this point is 640,040 in a population of 47 million, with 30,495 of the world’s 960,826 deaths.

A report from Reuters this morning indicates that Madrid’s regional government has requested assistance from the army in and around the capital. New, targeted lockdowns are prompting protests. In a news briefing, Madrid’s Isabel Diaz Ayuso has said that she’s requesting that field hospitals be set up again, “about three months after they were decommissioned when Spain emerged from its strict lockdown having reduced contagion rates.”


Javier Celaya is a speaker in the Frankfurt Conference focus on audio on October 15. Read more about it in our coverage here.

More from us on audiobooks is here, more on subscription is here, more on Spain is here, and more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site. Publishing Perspectives was a media partner with Bookwire’s ‘All About Audio’ conference.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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