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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.

11 mins ago - Sports

American Katie Ledecky wins Olympic gold in women's 800m freestyle

Photo: François-Xavier Marit/AFP via Getty Images

American superstar swimmer Katie Ledecky grabbed her second gold medal of this year's Olympic Games, winning the women's 800-meter freestyle race Saturday in Tokyo.

Driving the news: Ledecky, who holds the world record in the 800m freestyle, is considered one of the best women swimmers of all time. Earlier this week, she snagged gold in the first-ever women's 1500m freestyle and took home silver medals in the 400m freestyle and the 4x2100m freestyle relay.

22 mins ago - Sports

Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars Olympic finals

Photo: Fred Lee via Getty Images

Simone Biles will not compete in the individual vault or uneven bars finals at the Tokyo Olympics, USA Gymnastics announced Friday.

Why it matters: Biles drew global attention after stepping out of the individual all-around and team finals to prioritize her mental health. It's unclear if she will compete in the balance beam or floor exercise events.