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Photo: ANTHONY WALLACE / Getty Images

The New York Times has struck a deal to acquire Serial Productions, the maker of the hit true crime podcast "Serial," the New York Times announced Wednesday night.

Why it matters: The deal speaks to The Times' commitment to grow its audio footprint. Earlier Wednesday, The Times named COO Meredith Kopit Levien as its new CEO. In an interview with Axios, Levien said the company would continue to expand its audio ambitions.

Details: "Audio has been a very big area of focus and investment for us," Levien told Axios.

  • "The Daily, which has now had over 1 billion downloads, has become a daily habit for so many people," she said.
  • "We've begun to use The Daily as a mechanism to put other audio journalism into the world."
  • Last September, Axios reported that The Daily, on average, garners more than 2 million downloads each day.
  • The deal could be worth as much as $50 million, the Wall Street Journal's Ben Mullin reports.

The Times also announced it entered into a business relationship with “This American Life” that will allow it to collaborate on long-form audio with Serial Productions and to work together on marketing and advertising sales.

By the numbers: The Times' media columnist Ben Smith first broke the news that The Times was eyeing a deal with Serial in March.

  • At the time, he reported that Serial looking to sell at a valuation of $75 million, although The Times is expected to pay less than that.

The big picture: The podcast industry is growing quickly, aided by a slew of recent deals aimed at helping the industry of fledging startups consolidate.

  • For The Times, investments in podcasting have helped the company grow its TV and film business.
  • The Times' TV and film executives told Axios last week that podcasts have helped train reporters to invest in new multi-media projects.

Go deeper: The New York Times' "The Daily" podcast hits 1 billion downloads

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Oct 27, 2020 - Sports

Locker Room wants to reinvent how fans talk sports

Courtesy: Betty Labs

Locker Room, a social audio app where fans can talk sports and spontaneously join live conversations, launches Tuesday on the App Store.

The state of play: The company behind Locker Room, Betty Labs, has raised $9.3 million in seed funding led by Google Ventures with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and the Alexa Fund, Axios has learned.

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.