Amazon's podcast arm Wondery is launching three new free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels on Freevee, the company announced this week.
The new channels include the flagship Wondery feed and two others dedicated to sports (Wondery Sports) and true-crime shows (Wondery Exhibit C), and will include a mixture of new and classic episodes of shows like "Morbid," "Business Wars," "Over My Dead Body," "Rich & Daily,"" and "Dr. Death." The shows will feature a mixture of on-camera interviews, animations and visually-appealing podcast artwork designed for mobile and TV screens.
"With podcast video being a means of discovery for many podcast newcomers, we’re excited [about] the chance to grow our listener community through free ad-supported channels on Freevee," Jeanine Wright, the chief operating officer at Wondery, said in a statement.
The launch of the three channels on Freevee marks one of the first times an audio-based podcast network has ventured into the FAST world. It also comes as other video-based platforms, including YouTube, have experimented with offering visual-based audio podcast on their platforms.
In August, a study from Coleman Insights and the podcast consulting firm Amplifi Media showed podcast consumers who "watched" shows through YouTube reported higher satisfaction compared to Spotify and Apple.
According to the study, around 70% of participants picked YouTube over Spotify in terms of enjoyability for podcast consumption. A similar number of participants also said YouTube was better at making podcast recommendations than Spotify and found YouTube to be easier to use.
"YouTube is the most used podcast platform, and those who use it are very satisfied," Jay Nachlis, the vice president and consultant at Coleman Insights, said in a statement. YouTube has offered visual-based podcasts for a while, and integrated pure audio podcasts into the YouTube Music app earlier this year.
Steve Goldstein, the founder and CEO at Amplifi Media, said a significant number of consumers still prefer consuming podcasts through audio apps, "but these findings show a robust and engaged YouTube audience that represents a significant podcast audience development opportunity."
Similarly, streaming video consumers are gravitating toward free services like Freevee in large numbers. A survey from Xperi's TiVo last month showed FAST channels accounted for around 50% of total viewership, with one out of five surveyed saying they'd switch from a subscription video service to an ad-supported or FAST platform within the next six months.
Amazon and Wondery are hoping to harness the FAST trend by increasing the reach of their podcast products through Freevee. It also could help Amazon and Wondery generate additional advertising revenue, with more marketers affirming their desire to buy inventory against FAST content.
"As podcast video become increasingly popular for both creators and consumers, Wondery’s FAST channels on Freevee will provide a unique opportunity for brands to expand their reach and curate custom content for podcast fans," Wright said.