Dec 30, 2020 - Economy

Amazon to acquire podcast company Wondery

Illustrated of a pair of headphones in Amazon orange with the Amazon logo on the speaker

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amazon announced Wednesday that it plans to acquire Wondery. The startup will be a part of Amazon‘s subscription music service, Amazon Music.

Why it matters: The move reaffirms Amazon’s growing ambitions to get into the podcasting space. Podcasts are a natural fit for the company, which already has a subscription music business, an audiobook business, and owns a sizable chunk of the smart speaker market in the U.S.

  • In May, Axios reported that Amazon was looking to invest in localized podcast content, like news and sports, to help bolster its Alexa voice assistant.
  • Multiple job listings and reports have suggested that Amazon Music, as well as Amazon’s audio book arm, Audible, are looking to invest more in podcasting.

What they’re saying: "When the deal closes, nothing will change for listeners, and they’ll continue to be able to access Wondery podcasts through a variety of providers,” the tech giant said in a statement.

  • “With Amazon Music, Wondery will be able to provide even more high-quality, innovative content and continue their mission of bringing a world of entertainment and knowledge to their audiences, wherever they listen.”

Details: Deal terms have not been disclosed, but a recent Wall Street Journal article suggested that Wondery is valued at over $300 million.

  • The WSJ reported earlier this month that Wondery was on track to bring in about $40 million in revenue this year, with about 75% of that revenue coming from advertising, and the rest from licensing fees it charges for other companies to distribute its podcasts.
  • Wondery has produced several hit podcasts, such as “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death,” “Business Wars,” and “The Shrink Next Door.”
  • Amazon says it hopes to “accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts by bringing creators, hosts, and immersive experiences to even more listeners across the globe, just as we do with music” with the Wondery deal.

The big picture: The deal is the latest in an audio acquisition frenzy.

  • The past year has seen several key companies, such as Spotify, iHeartMedia, SiriusXM, and Apple, invest hundreds of millions of dollars in podcast acquisitions
  • Wondery was one of the last remaining independent podcast platforms that was large enough to be considered an obvious acquisition target.

Go deeper: Podcast wars heat up

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