Spotify will give premium members in the U.S. 15 free hours of audiobook listening starting Wednesday.
This somewhat speeds up the planned rollout of Spotify’s new offering, which debuted in the U.K. and Australia on Oct. 3. At the time, Spotify had said the offering would reach the U.S. “this winter.”
More than 200,000 audiobooks will be on offer at launch, including popular titles such as Britney Spears’ The Woman in Me, Jada Pinkett Smith’s Worthy and Jesmyn Ward’s Let Us Descend. If a subscriber hits the limit of 15 hours of listening per month, they can opt to purchase 10 more hours or purchase the book.
This comes after Spotify reported better than expected subscriber gains and a surprise operating profit for the three months ended in September. During the earnings call, on Oct. 24, CEO Daniel Ek said the launch of the audiobooks business would not “derail our progress on the gross margin side or our progress on the operating income side” and would likely be helpful to 2024 results.
“While it’s still too early to see the impact in our numbers, initial signs from subscribers in the U.K. and Australia are incredibly positive as we bring them more content to discover. In the first two weeks since launch, premium subs in these two markets are loving the breadth of titles and have already listened to over 28% of the catalog,” Ek said at the time .
Spotify first launched its audiobooks business in September 2022, following its acquisition of audiobook production platform Findaway in November 2021. The company has been talking about audiobooks as the next step in its business model, after heavily investing in the podcasting space, which has weighed on its margins, but has helped with subscriber retention.
In the most recent earnings report, Spotify reported 226 million paying premium subscribers, up from 220 million as of the end of June. And on the October earnings call, Spotify CFO Paul Vogel reiterated a one- to two-year timeline for the podcasting segment to reach break even.