Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

BBC Studios said Monday that it's investing in Pocket Casts, a free-to-download podcasting platform. NPR, WNYC Studios and WBEZ Chicago are already investors.

Why it matters: The investment is likely a response to media companies wanting their own data, analytics and distribution outlets instead of Apple, which shares very little data with publishers.

The big picture: It's part of a growing trend of news companies eyeing investments in podcast companies to bolster their audio efforts.

Driving the news: The New York Times is in exclusive talks to acquire Serial Productions, the podcast studio that has attracted more than 300 million downloads, The New York Times' Ben Smith reports.

  • Smith says that the company's valuation could be around $75 million, which would be a hefty investment for The Times.
  • The Times has acquired smaller companies before, like influencer marketing agency Fake Love in 2016, and About.com for about $410 million in 2005.

Yes, but: One high-level source in the podcasting world emails Axios that they're skeptical that the deal will go through.

  • "They don’t need it. The Daily is heard by millions of listeners daily. Their other projects have been great. Serial will sell to someone needing a pod strategy or big win, is my guess."

Be smart: Recently, many of the big podcast exits were going to tech companies, like Spotify, but publishers have made investments in podcast companies as well over the past few years.

  • Slate Group was early to the game with its creation of Panoply, now called Megaphone, a podcast content company turned podcast technology company that now focuses on podcast advertising.
  • iHeartMedia bought podcast production company Stuff Media in 2018 for $55 million.
  • E.W. Scripps acquired podcast network Midroll in 2015.

Go deeper: Luminary's global expansion could heat up the podcast subscription wars

Go deeper

13 mins ago - Health

U.S., Canada and U.K. accuse Russia of trying to steal coronavirus vaccine research

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin\TASS via Getty Images

Hackers associated with Russian intelligence services are trying to steal information from researchers involved in coronavirus vaccine development, according to a joint advisory by U.K., U.S. and Canadian authorities published Thursday.

The big picture: This isn't the first time a foreign adversary has been accused of attempting to steal COVID-19-related research. U.S. officials in May announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the U.S. for data on a potential cure or effective treatments to combat the virus.

M&A activity falls despite early coronavirus fears

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In April, several prominent Democrats proposed a moratorium on large mergers and acquisitions. Their argument was that the pandemic would embolden the strong to pounce on the weak, thus reducing competition.

Fast forward: The moratorium never materialized. Nor did the M&A feeding frenzy.

More than 32 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits

Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

More than 32 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment benefits, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

Why it matters: Tens of millions of jobless Americans will soon have a smaller cash cushion — as coronavirus cases surge and certain parts of the country re-enter pandemic lockdowns — barring an extension of the more generous unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the month.