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

The New York Times to acquire Serial Productions

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.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 18,288,573 — Total deaths: 693,805 — Total recoveries — 10,916,907Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 4,713,562 — Total deaths: 155,469 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. Education — Fauci: Schools can reopen with safeguards, but those in virus hot spots should remain closed
  4. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  5. Sports: 13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive, prompting MLB to cancel Tigers series — Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign for schools.
  6. 1 🎥 thing: "Tenet" may be the first major film to get a global pandemic release.
Updated 3 hours ago - Science

Hurricane Isaias lashes the Carolinas

People walk through floodwaters on Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Monday. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Hurricane Isaias made landfall as a Category 1 storm near Ocean Isle Beach in southern North Carolina at 11:10 p.m. ET Monday, packing maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, per the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

What's happening: Hurricane conditions were spreading onto the coast of eastern South Carolina and southeastern N.C., the NHC said in an 11 p.m. update. Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith told WECT News the eye of the storm triggered "a series of fires at homes" and "a lot of flooding." Fire authorities said they were responding to "multiple structure fires in the area."