The Ricky Gervais Show, one of the most popular podcasts on Apple Computer’s iTunes Music Store, is moving to a paid-only format to be sold by audio book specialist Audible.
Audible plans to announce on Tuesday that it will start selling episodes of Gervais’ show beginning with a new “season two” collection of episodes, which will begin next week. Audible will charge $1.95 per episode or $6.95 for the season, which will include at least four episodes by the creator and star of British television’s “The Office.”
The move is the first major example of a free podcast attempting to go paid, said David Joseph, Audible’s vice president of corporate communications and strategy. “We’re helping Ricky to build a business so he can pay his people.”
“There will be a little bit of controversy because everybody wants something for free,” Joseph said. Gervais’ half-hour show was the No. 4 most popular in Apple’s Top 100 rankings on its podcast directory as of Monday. Audible said it expects to be able to sell the show through iTunes in addition to its own Web site. Apple partners with Audible to stock the audiobook section of iTunes.
Currently, Apple provides its podcasts and video podcasts for free, though it charges $1.99 an episode for TV shows and other video programs and 99 cents for music tracks.
Gervais’ show will not carry advertising, Joseph said.