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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

E.W. Scripps Company said Monday that it agreed to sell its podcast company, Stitcher, to SiriusXM for $325 million.

Why it matters: The sale price speaks to the extraordinary growth of the podcast industry in just a few short years.

By the numbers: Scripps bought Stitcher four years ago for just $4.5 million. Now, it's selling it for more than four times Stitcher's 2019 revenue of $72.5 million.

  • Scripps notes that the sale marks "a return of more than double Scripps’ investment in podcasting over the last five years."
  • It says that more than two-thirds of Stitcher's revenue comes from Stitcher's podcast advertising platform, Midroll.

Details: The deal includes $265 million of cash upfront, with an earnout of up to $30 million based on 2020 financial results (paid in 2021) and an earnout of up to $30 million based on 2021 financial results (paid in 2022).

  • On a conference call with investors, Scripps CFO and executive vice president Lisa Knutson said that those financial goals were created in conjunction with SiriusXM, with the pandemic in mind, and that she believes that they are achievable.
  • The deal includes moving all of Stitcher's employees to SiriusXM.

The state of play: The deal also speaks to SiriusXM's big ambitions to grow as a leader in the podcast space, rivaling Spotify and to an extent Amazon and Apple.

  • Two weeks ago, SiriusXM acquired Simplecast, a popular podcast management platform that helps podcasters publish, manage and measure their content. 
  • It already owns podcast ad company AdsWizz, which it acquired through its purchase of Pandora in 2018.

The big picture: Podcasts are expected to bring in less than $1 billion in revenue this year, but it's by far the fastest-growing advertising medium. Continued investments in the space by big companies like SiriusXM and Spotify are expected to help the industry mature faster.

  • To that end, Knutson noted on the call that when it purchased Midroll in 2015, only 15% of Americans listened to at least one podcast monthly. Now, according to Edison's latest Infinite Dial podcast report, more than two-thirds of Americans listen to at least one podcast monthly.

Go deeper: Spotify's growing podcast ambitions

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2020 - Technology

Stir raises $4 million to help online collaborators split revenue

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Stir, a service that lets creators on new online platforms manage their businesses, has raised $4 million in seed funding, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: The company, backed by heavy hitters in the creator economy, helps individual creators and journalists share revenue when they collaborate. This type of service could incentivize more creators to branch out on their own, expanding the creator economy as a whole.

Mike Pence calls Kamala Harris to offer congratulations and help

Mike Pence. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty

Vice President Mike Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance in the transition, the New York Times first reported.

Why it matters: The belated conversation came six days before the inauguration after a contentious post-election stretch. President Trump has neither spoken with President-elect Joe Biden, nor explicitly conceded the 2020 election.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The coronavirus variants: What you need to know

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New variants of the coronavirus circulating globally appear to increase transmission and are being closely monitored by scientists.

Driving the news: The highly contagious variant B.1.1.7 originally detected in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March if no measures are taken to control the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.