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Amazon Music has agreed to buy podcast studio Wondery in a bid to bolster its fledgling audio business.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Amazon said that the agreement, when it is finalized next year, is not expected to change how listeners can find and access Wondery shows, which are currently distributed on a number of podcast platforms.
Wondery’s sale follows a period of frenzied M&A activity around the fast-growing podcast sector. Other startups, including Gimlet Media, Stitcher, Parcast and Megaphone, have all been snapped up in the last two years major tech and media players including Spotify, Sirius, iHeartRadio and The New York Times invest heavily in the medium amid an uptick in listenership in the U.S. and around the world. Wondery was largely regarded as the last major independent podcast studio, and its sale has been a hot topic among media observers in recent months.
The Wall Street Journal previously reported that the deal talks valued Wondery pegged the deal at over $300 million, which would make it one of the largest podcast acquisitions to date. (SiriusXM purchased Stitcher for $265 million in July with earn outs that could boost the final deal price to $325 million.)
Founded in 2016 by former Fox International executive Hernan Lopez, Wondery found early success partnering with media companies to produce compelling, and at times salacious, miniseries stories. The 2017 true crime podcast Dirty John was Wondery’s first break-out hit. It was turned into a Bravo series starring Connie Britton in 2018. In the years since, Wondery has focused on building a pipeline of podcasts to adapt for film at TV. Its other projects include true crime series Dr. Death and The Shrink Next Door and anthology series Business Wars.
Lopez will leave the company after the transaction is complete and chief operating officer Jen Sargent will take over leadership of the company, according to an Amazon spokeswoman. He is expected to focus his attention on his newly created Hernan Lopez Family Foundation. Earlier this year, Lopez was indicted on wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges related to his time as a Fox executive. He pleaded not guilty in the spring and is challenging the indictment.
Amazon adds Wondery to its portfolio amid a push to provide more podcast programming within its Amazon Music platform. Over the years, the e-commerce giant has built out an expansive entertainment arm to offer music, streaming TV and other perks to its annual Prime subscribers. It added podcasts to its music service in September in a bid to compete with Spotify. The company also owns Audible, the audio book retailer that has expanded to offer podcast content.
In its announcement about the Wondery acquisition, Amazon said that the deal would help it expand its offering for subscribers.
Dec. 30, 2:26 p.m. Updated to include that Hernan Lopez will leave Wondery after the deal closes.
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