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

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Meredith Kopit Levien lays out vision for NYT as future CEO

Meredith Kopit Levien. Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

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Why it matters: Kopit Levien is credited with the company's digital turnaround. Her focus on data, product and technology will be a big thing to watch in the coming years at The Times.

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Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

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Why it matters: Levien, 49, is credited with turning the Times' business around from being mostly dependent on advertising to now getting most of its money from subscriptions. She's also restructured the business team in recent years to put an increased emphasis on product, data and technology.

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Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.0% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

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Why it matters: This could pose a significant disadvantage for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates in November if the pattern holds — especially in states where high infection rates persist, or where there are significant hurdles to mail-in, absentee or early voting.