Just a month after Audible recruited Hollywood veteran Brad Schwartz to lead the development of podcasts and original audio series, he has quickly departed. Bloomberg reports Audible reversed on naming Schwartz as Chief Content Officer after it came to light that the executive was involved in a sexual harassment lawsuit at Pop TV, where he had previously worked. When the news came to light, Audible’s management team apparently reversed course after employees expressed their discomfort in working with Schwartz.
Bloomberg says Schwartz was not named as a defendant in the since-dismissed lawsuit against Pop Media Group that alleged both gender and age discrimination. But he was named in it and just having a connection to the case was enough for Audible to negotiate an exit with Schwartz. Neither side is commenting.
When Audible hired Schwartz from ViacomCBS-owned Pop TV last month, CEO Bob Carrigan said in the announcement that the company was looking to expand its focus on “premium audio storytelling and entertainment across all formats and genres.” Audible has already been inching closer toward podcasting. It has released “Audible Originals,” which are pretty much podcasts in everything but name. Bloomberg reported last month that 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 already bought series from comedians Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish and from documentary producer John Battsek
Audible is also reportedly 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 is said to be 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.