Amazon acquires Wondery, the company behind podcasts like “Dirty John”, “Dr. Death” and “The Shrink Next Door” as the race for parts of the audio market continues.
The deal announced on Wednesday is the latest bet media companies are putting on audio – podcasts in particular – to seek new ways to differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded streaming video market.
The deal values Wondery, which began in 2016, at around $ 300 million, one person said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity as the terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Amazon described the Wondery deal as “a crucial moment to expand Amazon Music’s offering beyond music as listening habits evolve.”
Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular. Almost a third of Americans said in early 2019 that they had listened for at least a month. They offer media companies a rapidly growing medium and the opportunity to expand their offerings without considering strong interests such as publishers and labels when licensing music or studios when licensing films.
Efforts to turn podcasting into its own celebrity universe have drawn greats like Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Wondery founder Hernan Lopez, a former Fox executive, has added a Hollywood treatment to his podcasts that is filled with slogans, trailers, and billboards. “DR. Death” is to be developed into a television series on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service.
Mr Lopez told the New York Times last year that he was “committed to creating a company that could build on podcasting the skills of television and film in both storytelling and production and marketing.”
According to an Amazon spokeswoman, when the deal with Amazon is completed, Mr. Lopez will step down as managing director and Jen Sargent, Wondery’s chief operating officer, will take over management. In April, Mr. Lopez pleaded not guilty to accusing him Bribing football officials in South America in exchange for broadcast rights when he was an executive at Fox Sports.
Amazon would not “predict” when the closing of the Wondery deal is expected, said the Amazon spokeswoman, noting that it is subject to “customary closing conditions”.
The Times earlier this year announced a deal to acquire Serial Productions, the company behind the hit podcast Serial. Spotify has announced a number of deals going beyond the streaming music business, including the acquisition of the Ringer podcast, which was launched by former ESPN journalist Bill Simmons. This deal is valued at around $ 250 million.
Investment bank LionTree was Wondery’s financial advisor.