BreakingModern — It’s been clearly established here on BMod that I’m more than a little into podcasts. You might even say that I’m unhealthily obsessed with the pure audio medium. When it was announced that the Earwolf and Wolfpop podcast networks were teaming up with WTF with Marc Maron and others to create a “Netflix for podcasts” called Howl, I was interested, to say the least.
The service, which costs $4.99/month, includes full backlogs of every featured show, as well as several Comedy Central standup specials and exclusive new shows. It’s not perfect, but Howl is headed in the right direction. Similarly, Howl’s app, which launched for Android recently and will likely be the primary way listeners access its content, is largely smooth and easy to use, though it’s not without some bugs.
As a subscription based service, Howl is (almost) worth it. Boasting full backlogs of all shows is a neat feature, but all episodes of all shows (excluding WTF) used to be available for free anyway. The special content, which includes Howl-exclusive podcasts, behind the scenes photos, Twitter commentary and more, is entertaining. But is it worth $60 a year? That’s debatable.
Keep in mind, however, Howl is a very young service, and there will undoubtedly be more and more content that the fine folks at Earwolf will create to justify the subscription fee. It’s just not there yet. Also, I love basically every show on these networks, and I have no reason to believe these comedians, writers and actors would implement something like Howl if there wasn’t a more than worthwhile payoff for the audience.
Howl’s app is mostly fine, but there are some egregious errors, chief among them being advertisements. One of Howl’s selling points for premium users is the supposed lack of ads throughout episodes, but I, as well as many others, have noticed this has so far not been the case. Ads still invade episodes at the same rate as always. Don’t get me wrong, listening to Adam Scott Aukerman try to make NatureBox sound appetizing for three minutes on Comedy Bang Bang is humorous, but I thought I was paying to not have any products peddled at me.
Additionally, the app’s layout isn’t bad, but there’s really nothing wrong with most other podcasting apps either. I know I constantly find myself going back to the default iTunes app, which likely isn’t a great sign for Howl. The exclusive content is definitely interesting (and I really enjoy what I’ve listened to so far), but when all of the Howl-only shows are plopped down together in one category, it’s hard to tell what’s worth listening to and what’s not.
Since Howl contains a whole bunch of great content, it could very well be on its way to becoming the Netflix of podcasts. And while not perfect, I suggest podcast fans give Howl’s app an honest try. What do you have to lose? If you don’t like it, you can simply go back to listening to Marc Maron in his garage for free.
All Screenshots: BMod Staff