Amazon Music buys Wondery as podcasting competition heats up

January 5, 2021

Amazon Music, a divison of Amazon, has announced that it intends to acquire Wondery, the company behind podcasts such as Dirty John, Dr. Death, and The Shrink Next Door,” as the race to grab parts of the audio market continues.

According to a report by The New York Times, the deal, announced on Wednesday, December 30, represents the latest bet that media companies are placing on audio —podcasts in particular —as they search for new ways to distinguish themselves in an increasingly crowded streaming video market.

The deal values Wondery, which launched n 2016 and is headquartered in West Hollywood, at roughly $300 million, a person briefed on the matter said. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal terms were not disclosed.

Podcasts have been exploding in popularity, with nearly one-third of Americans saying at the beginning of 2019 that they listened to at least one monthly. They offer media companies a fast-growing medium and an opportunity to build out their offerings without having to go through powerful interests, like publishers and labels, when licensing music, and studios when licensing films, the Times notes.

Efforts to turn podcasting into its own celebrity universe have attracted the likes of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry..

Indeed, company founder Herman Lopez told The New York Times last year that he had “set out to create a company that could build on bringing to podcasting the skill set of television and movies, both in storytelling and production, as well as marketing.”

Lopez will step down as chief executive when the deal with Amazon closes, and Jen Sargent, Wondery’s chief operating officer, will take over management, according to an Amazon spokesperson.

Amazon would not “predict” when the Wondery deal was expected to close, the Amazon spokesperson said, noting it is subject to “customary closing conditions.”

Research contact: @nytimes

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