Amazon to buy Wondery to expand its catalogue of original audio content

The deal will strengthen the company's position against the likes of Apple and Spotify

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is pictured inside the company's office in Bengaluru, India, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa/File Photo

Amazon is buying US-based podcasting platform Wondery in a deal that will strengthen the company's audio content.

Wondery, which was set up four years ago with backing from Twentieth Century Fox, will now become part of Amazon Music, the Seattle-based e-commerce giant's music streaming business which added podcasts to its platform in September. Amazon also owns the Audible library of audiobooks, which it runs as a separate subscription service.

The price paid for Wondery was not disclosed, but a Wall Street Journal report said Amazon paid nearly $300 million, citing an unnamed source.

When the deal closes, nothing will change for listeners, and they will continue to be able to access Wondery podcasts through a variety of providers, Amazon said in a statement.

“With Amazon Music, Wondery will be able to provide even more high-quality, innovative content and continue their mission of bringing a world of entertainment and knowledge to their audiences, wherever they listen,” it added.

The deal allows Amazon to expand its existing catalogue of original audio content and improve its competitive position against the likes of Apple and Spotify that have doubled down on their investment in podcasts.

Through this deal, Amazon is aiming to “accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts” by bringing creators, hosts, and immersive experiences to listeners across the globe, the company said.

“This is a pivotal moment to expand the Amazon Music offering beyond music as listener habits evolve … we will continue to bring more customers to streaming as we expand selection,” it said.

The global podcast market is booming. The industry was valued at $9.28 billion last year and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 27.5 per cent from 2020 to 2027, according to Grand View Research, a San Francisco-based market research and consulting company.

Wondery, the creator of hits such as Dirty John, Dr Death, The Shrink Next Door and Business Wars, raised $10 million in a Series B funding round in June last year in a deal that valued the podcast network at more than $100m.

In March 2018, it raised $5m in a Series A round. Its investors include Waverley Capital, Greycroft, Advancit Capital and Powerhouse Venture.

“We are excited to announce we have signed a deal to join Amazon. Together with Amazon, we look forward to continuing to bring a world of entertainment and knowledge to you,” Wondery said, adding that the deal is yet to be finalised with the transaction subject to customary closing conditions.