It's Official! Welcome to The New York Times Audio App
The app, which has been in beta for nearly 18 months, was officially released yesterday.
In October 2021, I first wrote about the announcement of The New York Times Audio app designed to bring a new listening experience with the full range of audio journalism and storytelling, as well as narrated articles, podcasts, and audio content from a slate of premier publishers.
When the beta was released in December of that year, I added further analysis with quotes from Alex Rainert, the head of Audio Product & Design with The New York Times. In a Tweet thread, Rainer shared a low-tech map detailing the discovery process to understand the audio landscape that helped align a vision for this product.
He wrote, “We felt only The Times could deliver at the intersection of content & product - a timely audio app that helps you understand the world and fits into your increasingly busy life.”
The app officially went live yesterday, and it’s a great experience.
Tom Jones from Poynter has an excellent summary of the app in his The Poynter Report morning newsletter. In the post, he links to Charlotte Klein’s Vanity Fair story about the app, “How Do We Get Every Second of Your Day?”: The New York Times Goes All In on a New Podcast App reiterates much of what was written about the app when it came out in beta in late 2021.
One podcast found on that app that wasn’t available in the early beta days is the daily show The Headlines, hosted by Annie Correal. Correal was a reporter at The Times covering immigration before taking on this new role hosting a daily news show.
The Headlines is competing in a crowded space against NPR’s Up First, Axios Today, and countless others, including the NYT’s flagship podcast, The Daily. What I like about The Headlines is that it’s a no-nonsense look at what I need to know as I start my day without the “overly cheerful back-and-forth banter” you find on many other daily news podcasts.
But what makes the app unique is the full scope of audio available to the listener.
Klein put it this way in her Vanity Fair piece:
I’ve been playing around on the app the past few days, and it does, at risk of sounding too woo-woo, feel like diving into the Times universe. On Tuesday, I hit play on the playlist curated each weekday morning and was taken from the day’s Headlines, on bank collapses and the war in Ukraine, to The Daily, where Mexico bureau chief Natalie Kitroeff was reporting from the southern border on the day Title 42 ended, to a “reporter reads,” in which publishing reporter Alexandra Alter read a piece she cowrote with Elizabeth Harris about an author who was asked by Scholastic to delete references to racism from her book, to a short by This American Life. “We hope that this will expand the universe of subscribers, but I think that we are very interested in making sure that Times subscribers have a better experience of audio, and one that is an introduction to Times journalism, than they would if they were just to start searching online for news podcasts or culture podcasts,” said Preiss.
And because you’re taking this journey through a platform owned by The Times, the user information captured from listening can be used to enhance the experience that, The Times hopes, will lead to increased subscriptions for NYT products.
I suggested back in 2021 that this should be a wake-up call for public radio. But, sadly, 18 months later, NPR, stations, and other national producers are still basically going it alone and handing over most of their on-demand content to Apple and Spotify to monetize.
I hope that this changes in the months ahead.