The New York Times Strengthens its Podcasting Arm With Serial Productions

Serial co-creator Sarah Koenig poses with her award at The 74th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Peabody Awards.

The takeaways

  • The New York Times is acquiring hit podcast maker Serial Productions for $25 million.
  • The purchase expands The Times’ audio portfolio, which includes its own “The Daily” podcast and audio journalism service Audm.
  • The Times is also expanding into multi-media projects like original television shows and documentaries.

What happened?

The New York Times announced that it will acquire Serial Productions, maker of the hit true crime podcast “Serial.” The deal, which the Times valued at around $25 million, follows the appointment of Times COO Meredith Kopit Levien as its new CEO.

The Times also announced its business relationship with “This American Life” that will allow it to collaborate on long-form audio with Serial Productions, as well as marketing and advertising sales. Serial initially launched as a spin-off of This American Life and the relationship links The Times to Serial Production’s wider market. “Nice White Parents,” the first joint production under both Serial and The Times, launches next week.

Audio Times

As the podcast industry continues to expand at speed, The Times has made strategic acquisitions. In an interview with Axios, Levien said the company would continue to expand into audio, calling it “a very big area of focus and investment for us.” In particular, she referenced the Times’ popular podcast The Daily, which has gained over 1 billion downloads. She described it as “a mechanism to put other audio journalism into the world.”

In March, The Times purchased Audm, a startup that converts longform journalism into audio content. Through its podcasting investments, the publisher aims to grow its TV and film business. Through Audm, consumers can download content narrated by professional voice actors, rather than automated voice technology. The Daily now provides audio articles each Sunday.

The Times is also making other forays into multi-media projects. Earlier this month, it revealed that it is developing 10 scripted TV shows, along with various documentaries.

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