Apps & Software

Pandora grabs exclusive streaming rights for Serial Season 2

Pandora, the popular music discovery platform, is now the exclusive streaming partner for the podcast “Serial.” The stream might be a perfect fit for Pandora’s highly engaged audience of more than 78 million monthly listeners but may be an unwelcome move for season one fans.

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.

“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.