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SiriusXM buys Team Coco to compete in podcast wars

Illustration of a microphone on top of a stack of dollars.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

SiriusXM's deal to acquire Conan O'Brien's media company, Team Coco, is the latest in a long list of podcast deals as the industry consolidates amid a rise in listenership and ad spend.

Why it matters: Team Coco is SiriusXM's largest content acquisition deal to date as the satellite radio giant seeks to compete with other media companies and platforms for podcast listeners.

Details: The deal is estimated to be worth $150 million and includes Team Coco's 10 podcasts and a five-year talent agreement with O'Brien in which he will continue to host the flagship podcast, per the Wall Street Journal.

  • Team Coco also will create a new comedy radio channel for SiriusXM subscribers.
  • "Conan has built an amazing brand and organization at Team Coco with a proven track record of finding and launching compelling and addictive podcasts. We look forward to continuing to grow the Team Coco brand," said Scott Greenstein, chief content officer of SiriusXM.

Catch up quick: SiriusXM isn't new to podcasting. It acquired Stitcher, a platform for creating, monetizing and distributing podcasts, in 2020.

  • Last April, SiriusXM bought 99% Invisible, the podcast company owned by Roman Mars.
  • It also inked an ad sales and distribution deal with "Crime Junkie" creator Audiochuck last year.
  • It's worked with podcast networks like Freakonomics and Crooked Media to create content for its radio channels.
Number of podcast acquisitions, by deal type
Data: Axios research; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

The big picture: While there's still lots of deal volume on the back end of podcasting — like ad tech and distribution — podcast studios have become coveted.

  • iHeartMedia bought Stuff Media, the publisher of HowStuffWorks, back in 2018.
  • Audacy, formerly known as Entercom, acquired Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Media in 2019.
  • Spotify garnered attention in podcasting by acquiring Gimlet and Parcast in 2019 and then The Ringer in 2020. It's since opted to sign exclusive licensing deals with individual podcasters like Joe Rogan and production companies like Archewell Audio.
  • Amazon made a splash in 2020 with Wondery, which already had produced popular shows like "Dirty John" and "Dr. Death." It also signed rights deals with "My Favorite Murder" creator Exactly Right Media and the team behind "SmartLess."
  • The New York Times acquired Serial Productions in 2020.
  • Vox Media bought Criminal Productions and Cafe Studios in 2021.

What's next: Barack and Michelle Obama's Higher Ground production company is ending its exclusive relationship with Spotify and has reportedly held talks with iHeartMedia and Amazon.

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