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Expand chart
Reproduced from The Nielsen Total Audience Report, February 2020; Chart: Axios Visuals

Luminary is expanding its service to three new countries, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ireland, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Its subscription podcast offering is bolstered by offering dozens of podcasts to users exclusively on its platform. Most Americans subscribe to multiple video services, but not multiple audio services, according to Nielsen. But that could soon change if more podcasts begin to be offered exclusively on certain platforms.

  • The move expands Luminary's footprint to Africa for the first time and doubles its international presence, which to date was only Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

What's happening: Luminary's global expansion comes on the heels of the announcement that Richard Plepler has joined its board of directors and that former HBO President and CRO Simon Sutton has joined as CEO.

  • The company raised $100 million last year to become the "Netflix" of podcasts.

The big picture: Podcasts companies are looking to invest more in their own exclusive content to lure users to pay subscription fees to their services.

  • Apple will reportedly fund exclusive podcasts for its platform. Bloomberg reported last month that Apple is also planing to make original podcasts promoting its TV shows.
  • Spotify announced Wednesday plans to acquire The Ringer, a sports media company founded by former ESPN personality Bill Simmons. It's the latest in Spotify's roughly $500 million investment in podcasting.
  • The Ringer shows that are currently exclusive on podcast platforms like Luminary and Pandora will remain exclusive.
  • The programs available on all podcast platforms will be available everywhere for the foreseeable future. There may be some podcasts from The Ringer that become Spotify exclusives in the future, although that's not expected to be the case for the most part.

Why it matters: Via Axios' Ina Fried: "The big question is whether this (Ringer deal) and other moves by Spotify and Luminary will mark the end of a world in which podcasts were largely openly and freely distributed."

Go deeper: News podcasts go mainstream

Go deeper

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.