Amazon to buy Wondery, injecting Amazon Music into a hot bidding zone for podcasts

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Amazon includes a music service with its Prime membership program, and it offers a Spotify-like unlimted version of it for another price. 


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Amazon will acquire podcast publisher Wondery, the latest tech giant investing in podcasts in the hope of popularizing its streaming services (and, by extension, the hardware sells you to access them). But Amazon, which operates the Amazon Music audio service, said Wondery’s programming — which includes such podcasts as Dirty John, Dr. Death and Business Wars — will continue to be available through a variety of providers after the deal closes.

Financial terms of the deal are confidential, Amazon said. The Wondery acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, which are still pending. 

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

Amazon offers various tiers of Amazon Music streaming services that range in price, including one that’s free with a Prime membership, and another that offers playlists and stations free with ads on any Alexa device. Amazon Music Unlimited is the company’s paid subscription service that competes with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music; it costs $10 a month for non-Prime subscribers. 

Music and audio are the primary uses for smart speakers like the Alexa-powered Echo devices, one of Amazon’s blockbuster device lines. The purchase of Wondery puts it among the ranks of tech giants like Apple leaning into entertainment services in the hope of making hardware purchases more appealing. 

It also injects Amazon into a increasingly intense bidding field for top podcast properties. Spotify has led this surge in interest, investing hundreds of millions of dollars to buy podcast publishers and lock down exclusives deals for podcasts from the likes of Joe Rogan, Barack and Michelle Obama and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the duke and duchess of Sussex. 


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