What is the Club?
The Adventures in Odyssey Club was launched on January 2nd of 2014 under the name of the “Odyssey Adventure Club”. The Club is a monthly or yearly subscription service that gives access to the streaming of over 900 episodes of the audio drama “Adventures in Odyssey”, including almost 100 Club-exclusive episodes.
Many people, however, did not like the idea of the Club. Their main complaints were that keeping episodes exclusive to the club wouldn’t be fair to people who had been purchasing albums or listening on the radio for years. On September 28th, 2013 (a few months before the Club had even been launched) David published an editorial on his blog, “AIO Update” titled “For Fifteen Dollars More.” He wrote that the Club sounded like a good idea to start with, but “as it stands now it looks like it may have a negative impact on fans.” David’s first point was that after a few years of paying for a Club subscription, it would become unsustainable as you would have paid the same price as buying all of the albums but would not actually own any of the episodes. He then wrote the following paragraph:
Perhaps Focus on the Family realized this and came up with a solution to give us another incentive to join the club: exclusive club episodes. In other words, fully produced high quality Adventures in Odyssey episodes that are apparently canon but locked behind a massive paywall that most fans who have already collected many of the albums will be unlikely to have the opportunity to listen to. This takes away our freedom to buy AIO episodes from other places because the club will be the only place to get these exclusive episodes, so it would be a waste of money to buy anything else from anywhere else.David (AIO Update)
After learning what David had to say, it becomes clear what most of the controversy over the Adventures in Odyssey Club is: Club-exclusive episodes.
The Club-exclusive episodes of Adventures in Odyssey started out as a way to highlight and support Christian organizations around the world who are doing some kind of missionary work, such as translating Bibles or spreading the Good News while providing medical care to people living in places without good medical care available. I emphasize started because they haven’t been releasing as many episodes that feature organizations other than Focus on the Family itself. Club episodes are released in seasons, rather than albums. Every year is a season of the AIO Club. 2014 was Season 1, and 2022 Season 9. Since Club episodes are released monthly, each season contains 12 episodes (like the albums prior to Album 59: Taking the Plunge, released in 2015). In the 2021 (Season 8), for example, only three out of the twelve episodes featured a ministry. The three episodes were Voice of Freedom, Parts 1 and 2, and Hurricane Perkins, so, if you count a two-parter as one episode (and because the two-parter naturally featured the same ministry throughout both parts) only two out of the twelve Club episodes that year featured ministries. Of course, there’s no problem with Focus on the Family releasing ordinary episodes in the Club, it’s just something to note in the history of the club. As the AIO team makes episodes with ministries that they know or have ties to, the figurative pool from which to choose from for future episodes decreases in size.
Throughout the years, the AIO team has released many different things on the Club. This has ranged from audiobooks of the Imagination Station books, the previously unavailable (after they stopped airing) episodes staring Officer Harley in The Officer Harley Collection, a special album available only on the Club. More recently, samples for the Blackgaard Chronicles and Young Whit books have been released for a limited time on the Club, before they were released for purchase. In 2020, a special collection of previously available episodes was released in a Club-exclusive album titled Hope in Trying Times. Throughout the years, full-length Focus on the Family Radio Theater audio dramas have been released for limited times in the Club.
All new album episodes are released on the AIO Club a few months before they air. However, there have been multiple cases of extra-early releases on the Club in the past few years, either by accident or intentionally. On the 6th of August 2019, for example, Nightmares by Constance, Part 2 was accidentally released alongside Nightmares by Constance, Part 1. Even more recently, The Lost One, Parts 1 and 2 were intentionally released (and soon after, aired) weeks early on the Club due to concern from younger listeners about Olivia.
I was originally going to write a history of the Club app here as well but, seeing that the post is already starting to become lengthy, I’ll write that up later. Keep checking back on the blog, and if you’re not subscribed yet enter your email below (or on the panel to the right) to be notified when that releases!
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! I’d be interested to learn what you think about the Club controversy, so if you have thoughts please do comment on this post! Also, let me know if you have ideas for what you want from Adventures in Opinions in the future.