Amazon Buys Wondery

Posted on December 31, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon, Music + Videos with 7 Comments

Amazon announced this week that it is purchasing award-winning podcast studio Wondery for an undisclosed sum that The Wall Street Journal reports is between $300 million and $400 million.

“We’re pleased to announce that Wondery—an innovative podcast publisher with a track record of creating and producing top-rated podcasts—has signed an agreement to join Amazon Music,” the Amazon announcement post explains. “Wondery is an innovative podcast publisher with a track record of creating and producing top-rated podcasts that entertain and educate listeners, including Dirty John, Dr. Death, Business Wars, and The Shrink Next Door.”

Wondery is one of the top-rated and highest-quality podcast studios on earth, and I can verify that personally since I listen to a lot of podcasts, including the first three mentioned in that quote above. And with podcast listenership exploding in 2020 because of users staying at home thanks to the pandemic and having more free time, there’s been a lot of movement in this space. Thanks to this acquisition, Amazon is joining the ranks of companies like Spotify and Apple that have invested a lot this year in original content.

Amazon says that it will not put Wondery’s content behind an Amazon Music paywall, and that users can continue to enjoy the podcasts through whatever apps and services they are using now.

“This is a pivotal moment to expand the Amazon Music offering beyond music as listener habits evolve,” Amazon notes, adding that Amazon Music added podcast support just recently, in September 2020. “Our commitment to podcasts, our focus on high-quality audio with the Amazon Music HD tier, and our recent partnership with Twitch to bring live streaming into the app, make Amazon Music a premiere destination for creators.”

I’m curious that American Scandal, my favorite Wondery podcast, wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the announcement post. You should check it out: It’s incredibly well-made, and the host, Lindsay Graham, has a perfect voice.

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Comments (7)

7 responses to “Amazon Buys Wondery”

  1. mattbg

    Wondery is great, so I think this will do something positive for Amazon's halo. It makes sense to include it under Music, even though it seems like a better fit for Audible.

    Curious to see whether it will become part of the free tier that Prime members have access to.

    I'm not a fan of the "satellite radio" theme developing where high value content is being absorbed into specific platforms.

    It doesn't seem clear how Amazon will make Wondery available, but the ideal of accessing all of your podcasts through a single podcast app seems at risk - if not now then in future.

  2. j5

    I know the podcasts are going to be free but man this is going to be annoying having to install different apps to listen to all these podcasts.

    I wonder if we'll see some sort of pirating rise in these exclusive podcasts? Groups taking these exclusive podcasts and making them available so you can add them to any podcast app that you like?

    • robsanders247

      In reply to j5:

      I’m a Wondery Plus subscriber, and while they have a dedicated app, using their personalized RSS feeds in my regular podcast player (Overcast). So I get all ad-free versions in a single app. Keeping my finders crossed they will continue to support this open standard. The moment it goes into the Amazon Music player exclusively I’ll be canceling my subscription and stop listening.

      • j5

        In reply to robsanders247:

        I can certainly understand wanting to cancel once it becomes exclusive to Amazon Music. At this stage of the podcast timeline, people's preference of podcast players is just as important as what podcasts they listen to. And Amazon's UI for their music player is not conducive for listening to podcasts.

        I really enjoy Spotify for music. But if you listen to more than a few podcasts it's really bad. I use PocketCasts and I love it!

  3. ghostrider

    It's a sad world we live in when mega-corporations walk in with wads of cash and keep snapping up small companies with good products and ideas, then ruining them or absorbing the technology and spitting out the remains. Those products are never the same again, and often made worse. It's reminiscent of nature in the way predators circle their prey, dive in, take a juicy bits and leave the rest they don't want. Never heard of Wondery, but I'm sure they had some good ideas - Amazon will destroy all of that though, and while the Wondery directors will walk away smiling, other staff will probably be let go because they're not needed anymore.