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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Amazon to acquire Wondery to compete against Spotify

 Wondery, one of the last major independent podcast networks, might soon be owned by Amazon. The companies announced an acquisition deal today, ending speculation about who might eventually buy the network, which is most well-known for true crime podcasts like Dirty John. (Apple and Sony were also reported to have at least discussed a possible purchase.)

Wondery, Acquired by Amazon

Amazon didn’t disclose the acquisition price, although earlier reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal suggested Wondery’s value was at least $300 million. Wondery would technically be part of Amazon Music, which launched podcast support in September this year. Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez will step down and leave the company when the deal closes, and COO Jen Sargent will take over, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Mullin.

The acquisition is a notable one, if only because it sets Amazon up to better compete against Spotify, which has been acquiring networks and exclusive talent for over a year. Amazon says this Wondery deal doesn’t change existing shows — they’ll still be available through “a variety of providers.” But Amazon says it hopes buying Wondery will “accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts by bringing creators, hosts, and immersive experiences to even more listeners across the globe.”

Of course, Amazon Music would likely promote Wondery shows over other programs and possibly put even more marketing spend behind them, especially globally. Interestingly, Audible isn’t mentioned in the news release, even though the Amazon-owned company creates its own exclusive podcasts, as well as publicly available ones, and recently launched a cheaper price tier specifically for people who might want to hear Audible exclusives.

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