Audio streaming company Spotify has agreed to buy The Ringer, the Los Angeles-based network of entertainment, sports and pop culture podcasts founded by Bill Simmons.
Simmons, a former irreverent writer and commentator for ESPN, founded the business in 2016 that reportedly reaches an audience of 14 million users a month with its content.
Terms of the deal announced Wednesday morning were not disclosed, but Spotify said it expects to close by the end of the first quarter.
Executives at the New York-based Spotify have stated a desire to expand audio streaming offerings beyond music.
The Ringer will immediately give them a slate of established programs including “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” “The Rewatchables” and “The Ryen Russillo Podcast.” It also offers video discussion “after shows” for fans of such popular TV series as HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
It’s the latest move by the Spotify to expand into the podcast space. The company spent about $400 million to acquire three podcast companies last year, including buying New York-based Gimlet Media and L.A.-based Parcast, which are creating exclusive content for Spotify.
“We look forward to putting the full power of Spotify behind The Ringer as they drive our global sports strategy,” Spotify Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff in a statement. “As we set out to expand our sports and entertainment offerings, we wanted a best-in-class editorial team. Bill Simmons is one of the brightest minds in the game and he has successfully innovated as a writer and content creator across mediums and platforms. The Ringer’s proven track record of creating distinctive cultural content as well as discovering and developing top tier talent will make them a formidable asset for Spotify.”
Since she was tapped as Spotify’s chief content officer in 2018, Ostroff has been charged with building an arsenal of podcasts to catapult the Swedish business to become a leader not just in music but also audio storytelling. Podcasts are seen as a key way to attract new listeners and increase the amount of time people spend on the platform.
Under her watch, the number of podcasts available on Spotify has grown to more than 450,000 titles, up from 185,000 in February in 2019.
“Becoming the most listened to audio network means that we needed to expand from just being a music platform to incorporating other types of audio, entertainment and information on the platform,” Ostroff told the Times last year. “Podcasts have started to really take off.”
The Swedish music streaming giant has 124 million paid subscribers and 271 million active users in 79 markets.