Spotify Continues $400 million Spree, To Acquire Bill Simmons’ The Ringer
Spotify announced Wednesday it will acquire Bill Simmons’ The Ringer, a sports website and podcast network with more than 36 shows. It is the Swedish company’s first big acquisition of the year since its $400 million spree in 2019 on podcasting companies. Terms of the deal were not announced.
Spotify spent more than $194 million to buy Gimlet, the podcast production business created by Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber, which brought in an estimated $15 million in revenue in 2018, about the same amount as The Ringer Podcast Network had in 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Simmons’ group is a more expansive organization than Gimlet, however, and includes the network, a website (which is currently affiliated with Vox) and a film unit it created in 2018, which produced documentary Andre the Giant for HBO.
“We couldn’t be more excited to unlock Spotify’s power of scale and discovery, introduce The Ringer to a new global audience and build the world’s flagship sports audio network,” he said in a statement.
The acquisition also means a big payday is coming for Simmons, who Forbes estimates made $7 million last year on his namesake podcast in it first ranking of highest-earning podcasters.
Spotify leads the audio streaming market with 124 million subscribers, but has hefty competition from Apple and Amazon’s music services with 60 million and 55 million subscribers, respectively. The company is betting that podcasts will not only be a differentiator for its service but a massive area of growth. In its fourth-quarter earnings, which were also released today, the company reported that 16% of its monthly active users listened to podcasts on the platform, a 200% year-over-year increase.
That growth reflects what’s happening across the industry, which surged over the last year. Nielsen reported that the number of podcast listeners increased 11% between June and October of last year. The amount of loyal listeners — people who listened to ten hours or more of podcasts a week — grew by 44%.
Apple, after years of providing the main platform for podcast consumption without actually monetizing it, may be changing course, and is reportedly looking at expanding into original podcast production, as well.