Amazon to buy podcast maker Wondery

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CNBC | Richard Washington

Amazon announced Wednesday that it’s acquiring podcasting company Wondery, expanding its catalog of original audio content.

As part of the deal, Wondery will join Amazon Music, the e-commerce giant’s music streaming business. Amazon Music in September added podcasts to its platform, looking to carve out a share of the increasingly competitive podcasting market, in which Spotify, Apple and others have gained ground.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment. Wondery declined to comment.

Wondery, founded in 2016, has produced some of the most popular podcasts in recent years, including true crime series like “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death” and “Over My Dead Body.” The podcast producer and network says it counts more than 10 million unique listeners each month.

Speculation of the deal had been building since earlier this month, when The Wall Street Journal reported Amazon was in talks to acquire the podcaster. Bloomberg reported in September that Wondery was exploring a sale.

The deal comes at a time when Spotify, Apple and others continue to jockey for dominance in the podcasting market. Amazon, Apple and Spotify have all sought to add podcasts to their streaming services as the medium has become the most popular way to listen to music and it allows them to differentiate their services with original podcasts.

Spotify has invested heavily in producing original podcasts, including, most recently, a deal with Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle. It has also acquired four companies to expand its library, including The Ringer, Gimlet Media, Anchor and Parcast. Meanwhile, Apple has slowly expanded its original podcast efforts and its Podcast app is installed on iPhones by default.

Amazon has a foothold in audio content beyond Amazon Music. The company also owns Audible, which hosts audiobooks and podcasts. The service has expanded its original audio content over the past few years, as well as beefed up its slate of free podcasts, including popular shows “This American Life,” “Pod Save America” and “You’re Wrong About.”

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