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Reports: Amazon Is Sizing Up Podcasts From Several Different Directions.

Local sports podcasts are high on Amazon’s shopping list as the company reportedly looks to expand into podcasting with locally-focused content. As the e-commerce company secures more sports play-by-play rights for its streaming television services, Axios reports it views companion podcasts as a way to leverage that content. Amazon is said to have already been looking to invest in local podcast producers as it also wants a hand in creating short-form news and sports audio content that would be delivered through its Alexa smart speakers. It reportedly has already had conversations with the sports platform Blue Wire.

One issue not yet resolved inside Amazon is where podcasting would fit into the company.

Axios cites unnamed sources as saying there’s an internal debate over whether podcasts should be part of the Alexa division, Amazon Music or the audio book company Audible — or even all three.

Amazon has already been moving at the fringes of the podcast industry. It has released “Audible Originals” that are pretty much podcasts in everything but name. Bloomberg reports it is now looking to grow that roster and has begun meeting with talent agencies and podcast producers to develop new projects. Bloomberg cites unnamed sources as saying Audible is offering as much as a “few million dollars” per show. It has bought series from comedians Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish and from documentary producer John Battsek.

Bloomberg also says Audible is considering reworking its subscription model to account for the introduction of podcasts. Users currently pay $15 per month to listen to one book and two original shows. It reportedly is looking at opening up the podcasts to allow anyone to consume the content regardless of whether they subscribe to the audio book service. Another idea being floated is offering a lower subscription rate that would allow users to listen to podcasts, but not audio books. No decisions have been made, according to the report. Amazon has declined to comment.

Podcasts are also expected to become part of Amazon Music in the coming months. It too is said to be reaching out to podcast networks and show producers about integrating their content into the music streaming service. That would potentially open up podcasts to a wider demographic since Amazon Music has had better reach into older age demos and those living outside the big metro areas.

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