Amazon Confirms Plan To Buy Wondery, A Rising Power In Podcasting

Amazon has announced a deal to acquire rising podcast power Wondery and make it a key part of its Amazon Music streaming operation.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal had reported the companies were in talks, at a valuation north of $300 million. That’s a sizable step up from the $100 million level of Wondery’s last fundraising round in the middle of 2019.

Wondery, which was founded in 2016 by former Fox International Channels CEO Hernan Lopez, has been known for series that lend themselves to screen adaptations. Its podcasts include Dirty John, which became a show for Bravo, and Dr. Death, which is in development at Universal Cable Productions.

It was also the largest podcast outfit left as an independent in a marketplace that has seen a spate of acquisitions in the past couple of years. Spotify, SiriusXM and The New York Times Co. have swung notable deals in the podcast sector, where annual advertising revenue is projected to pass $1 billion in the U.S. in 2021.

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“When the deal closes, nothing will change for listeners, and they’ll continue to be able to access Wondery podcasts through a variety of providers,” Amazon noted in a blog post. “With Amazon Music, Wondery will be able to provide even more high-quality, innovative content and continue their mission of bringing a world of entertainment and knowledge to their audiences, wherever they listen.”

Amazon Music launched podcasts in September 2020. Its corporate cousin, Audible, has also been investing heavily in podcasting.

“Together with Wondery, we hope to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts by bringing creators, hosts, and immersive experiences to even more listeners across the globe, just as we do with music,” the blog post added. “This is a pivotal moment to expand the Amazon Music offering beyond music as listener habits evolve.”

Audio is central to Amazon’s strategy across a range of devices, among them the Echo. Amazon Music has been increasingly integrated into a range of devices, adding music and podcasts to the experience.

Lopez was charged by the U.S. government for wire fraud and money laundering as part of a wide-ranging investigation into corruption related to soccer’s World Cup. Fox secured rights to air the tournament in 2018 and 2022. Lopez has pleaded not guilty and his legal team has challenged the indictment. He remains free on bond.

LionTree advised Wondery on the transaction. The investment firm also had a hand in the recent acquisitions of Stitcher and Serial earlier this year.

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