Amazon announced on Wednesday that it acquired Wondery, the podcasting network behind popular shows like “Dirty John.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal recently reported a deal between the two companies would be worth more than $300 million.
Wondery, which launched four years ago with the backing of 20th Century Fox and later received funding from investors like Greycroft, will now fall under the Amazon Music umbrella. LionTree, the tech and media-focused investment firm, advised Wondery on the deal. Amazon, in a press release announcing the deal, said “nothing will change for listeners” and that users will “continue to be able to access Wondery podcasts through a variety of providers.”
Wondery, whose biggest hits are true-crime stories such as “Doctor Death,” “Dirty John” and “Over My Dead Body,” was the sixth most-popular podcast publisher in the U.S. in September, audio analytics firm Podtrac reported, with more than 60 million downloads. Its “Dirty John” podcast was produced in partnership with the Los Angeles Times based on a print series reported by staff writer Christopher Goffard. A “Dirty John” TV series, based on the life of con artist John Michael Meehan, starred Eric Brana and Connie Britton and launched on Bravo in November 2018.
The acquisition comes as Amazon is increasingly focused on podcasting. Amazon Music had 70,000 podcasts to pick from in September and has recently signed stars like Will Smith and DJ Khaled to exclusive deals to host their own shows. Amazon’s bet on podcasts mirrors the push Spotify has made this year in signing several big-name podcasters, including Joe Rogan and Bill Simmons — a decision Spotify investors have signed off on so far, with the company’s stock price increasing more than 100% in 2020.
Spotify and Amazon are aiming to topple Apple Podcasts as the go-to podcasting platform. Right now, Apple is responsible for 42.7% of all devices downloading podcasts, according to data shared by Chartable.
Amazon has made similar splashes in the past, most notably acquiring Audible, the audiobook and podcast service, for $300 million back in 2008. Rachel Ghiazza, head of U.S. content at Audible, recently talked to TheWrap about the company’s podcasting strategy, as well as what people have been listening to during the pandemic.
“We’ve seen a pop in family and kids listening. It’s a way to be together as a family and consume something new,” Ghiazza said.
Wondery, according to the WSJ, is on track to surpass $40 million in revenue this year, with about three-quarters of that stemming from advertising. The podcast industry overall is expected to top $1 billion in ad sales in 2021.