Fans of “Serial,” the true crime podcast that exploded in popularity when it debuted last year, will now be able to listen to the show on Pandora.
Pandora, the huge internet radio station, said on Tuesday that it has picked up the podcast and will start airing season one later this month.
The company did not give a debut date for the highly anticipated second season of the show, which Maxim reported will follow the story of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the ex-POW who was released last year.
The show will still be available as a regular podcast through iTunes and other services. (There was a little confusion about that Monday morning. Some thought Pandora had won exclusive rights to the new season of Serial. But the show’s producers clarified in a tweet that you’ll still be able to listen on all the standard platforms.)
“For people already listening to Serial and This American Life, nothing will change. But we believe lots of people who’d like our shows simply haven’t heard of them, or haven’t started listening to podcasts,” Ira Glass, editorial advisor of Serial and host of This American Life, said in a press release.
The staff of Serial was quick to point this out in a tweet on Monday morning:”Serial Season One was a phenomenon and we at Pandora are among the many eagerly anticipating Season Two,” Brian McAndrews, the CEO of Pandora, said in statement. “We think our listeners will love Serial and look forward to helping build its growing number of fans.”
Here’s the full press release from Pandora:
Pandora (NYSE:P), the world’s largest music discovery platform, is the exclusive streaming partner for breakout podcast Serial. This partnership offers new and exciting content for Pandora’s highly engaged audience of more than 78 million monthly listeners. Pandora will also be the exclusive streaming partner for This American Life (creators of Serial) beginning in early 2016.
“Serial Season One was a phenomenon and we at Pandora are among the many eagerly anticipating Season Two,” said Brian McAndrews, CEO of Pandora. “We think our listeners will love Serial and look forward to helping build its growing number of fans.”
While the Season Two launch date remains highly guarded, Season One will be made available in its entirety for listeners who want to check it out for the for the first time or listen again on Tuesday, November 24, right before the Thanksgiving holiday.
For Season Two, episodes will become available every Thursday at 6:00 a.m. ET — the same time they become available via the Serial podcast feed. (Season Two will still be available as a regular podcast, the way Season One is.) Listeners will be able to select which episodes they would like to listen to, as well as where in the episode they would like to tune in.
“For people already listening to Serial and This American Life, nothing will change. But we believe lots of people who’d like our shows simply haven’t heard of them, or haven’t started listening to podcasts,” said Ira Glass, editorial advisor of Serial and host of This American Life. “Serial is the biggest podcast in the world, but only 17% of Americans listen to podcasts at all. That’s why it’s so exciting for us to work with Pandora. Pandora reaches millions of people who never listen to public radio or download podcasts. This’ll get our shows to them.”
“We also have our fingers crossed that Sarah Koenig’s voice sounds enough like Justin Bieber’s that Pandora’s genome pushes the show on hordes of millennials,” Glass joked, referencing the service’s signature music recommendation system.
Podcasting continues to increase in popularity, and this partnership provides Pandora the opportunity to introduce its listeners to a growing content stream. Beyond simply exposing listeners to a new experience, Pandora is making it easy for listeners to tune in — simply add the Serial station and start listening.
“Serial and Pandora are a perfect fit,” continued McAndrews. “We are always looking to delight our listeners with engaging and cutting-edge programming, while Serial is looking to reach the largest audience possible. This gives Pandora listeners yet another reason to tune in.”
The main difference between tuning into a podcast versus a song is its length — up to an hour or more compared to three to five minutes. To account for this, Pandora engineers focused on bringing “chapterized” content to the platform for the first time. Each episode will be broken into five minute chunks, allowing listeners to more easily pick up where they left off, go back to re-listen, or skip ahead. This will not affect the experience for those who want to listen to an episode in its entirety; each will play through with no interruptions.
This is not the first time Pandora has offered its listeners non-music content. Beginning in 2011, comedy was added to the platform and there are currently more than 20 comedy-specific stations. Earlier this year, through a partnership with Ford F-150, “Country Built” was launched — a unique combination of both music and non-music content chronicling the history of country music narrated and hosted by songwriter Otis Gibbs.
Over eight million people have downloaded each episode of Serial’s first season. On weeks that Serial is not coming out with new episodes, This American Life is usually the country’s most popular podcast, with over 2.2 million downloads per episode.
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