New York Times Acquires Serial Productions

Neil Drumming, Julie Snyder, Producer Brian Reed, Sarah Koenig, and Ira Glass- Getty - H 2020
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The newspaper has also entered into a strategic alliance with 'This America Life.'

The New York Times Co. has agreed to acquire Serial Productions, the company behind podcast hit Serial, as it looks to build out its audio business.

The deal will allow the studio, which will continue to commission and edit its own stories, to produce more projects than it did previously. Since Serial launched in 2014, it has released three seasons. 

"We’re incredibly proud of Serial and wanted to find a home where we felt shared values, one where we would be supported and resourced to tell more stories, of the highest quality," executive editor Julie Snyder said in a statement. "We're thrilled to be joining the Times, where they have demonstrated a commitment to pursuing the possibilities of audio and long-form narrative journalism."

Serial was originally developed by Snyder and Sarah Koenig while they worked at radio show This American Life. The show's first season became a widespread hit (each episode has been downloaded 20 million times on average) and has been credited with helping introduce podcasting to many Americans. Serial Productions teamed up with This American Life to release the longform podcast S-Town in 2017. Neil Drumming joined the team from This American Life in February.

Alongside the deal to acquire Serial Productions, the newspaper is also entering into a strategic alliance with This American Life to produce longform audio stories with Serial and to collaborate on marketing and sales. TAL will remain an independent company and continue its weekly radio broadcasts. 

"I can’t imagine a better partner for the journalism we and Serial do than The Times, and look forward to continuing to invent this still-young world of podcasting with them at our side," TAL founder, host and executive producer Ira Glass said.

The Times has invested in podcasting in recent years following the success of morning news show The Daily, which it launched in 2017. It has also released limited series 1619 and Caliphate. Earlier this year, it acquired audio service Audm for $8.6 million 

"We've seen the power that audio can have in building deeper connections with our audience and we're committed to bringing listeners the best audio journalism in the world," said Meredith Kopit Levien, COO of Times Co., who will succeed Mark Thompson as CEO in September. "What better way to show that commitment than by acquiring Serial, the most celebrated and innovative podcast series ever produced and by partnering with This American Life, a program that quite simply transformed the genre." 

She added, "Our goal is to continue to evolve our audio offerings and to chart a sustainable course for high-quality, immersive audio journalism."