Amazon buys Wondery, the US podcast network behind successful shows




Dirty John


The people behind podcast app Breaker will be employed by Twitter and will work on an experimental audio function.

What does big tech see in podcast companies?

The interest of major tech companies in podcasts really becomes apparent when Spotify makes a major acquisition in 2019.

The company acquires Gimlet, a podcast studio similar to Wondery.

Gimlet is behind the successful podcasts







among others


The step shows that Spotify does not only want to focus on music, but looks more broadly at audio.

The interest of companies like Amazon, Spotify and Twitter in podcasting is not directly related to money, says John Sullivan, who researches the podcast industry at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, USA.

“Many tech companies are now eagerly reaching for podcasting, and following each other in that,” he says.

"Not because there is a lot of advertising money to be made with it - if you compare it to radio or TV that is still miniscule - but because podcasts can attract a larger audience to their platforms."

Spotify emphasized in the acquisition of Gimlet that "audio - not just music" determines the future of the Swedish company.

Spotify emphasized in the acquisition of Gimlet that "audio - not just music" determines the future of the Swedish company.

Photo: Spotify

Unique podcasts as a lure

Spotify's steps show clearly what the strategy is, Sullivan explains.

In addition to Gimlet, the Swedish company also bought Anchor, a podcast recording and publishing service.

It also signed an exclusivity deal with

The Joe Rogan Experience

, one of the most popular podcasts at the moment.

"Spotify wants to become the YouTube of podcasts," says the professor.

"A place where amateur podcasters can go via Anchor, but also professional makers can be found."

"If you compare that to Amazon, the purchase of Wondery also makes sense. Companies only want one thing: that as many people as possible visit their platform."

In addition to a webshop, Amazon also offers the listening service Audible and the streaming service Prime Video.

With the purchase of Wondery, Amazon can kickstart its podcast production.

This yields valuable shows that can attract listeners to his platform, but also ideas (and the rights) for TV series or films.

“Netflix did the same,” says Sullivan.

"It was going to make its own productions to differentiate itself, and not have to deal with expensive licenses and other risks. Amazon has a lot of money to put into this."

Podcasts that also appeared as a TV series:

  • Dirty John (Wondery) got a TV series of the same name that appeared on Netflix outside the US

  • The non-fictional horror series Lore (independent) got twelve episodes on Amazon Prime Video

  • StartUp (Gimlet) got a TV series in the US called Alex, Inc.

    on TV channel ABC

  • The story of Serial (from the radio show This American Life) was picked up by HBO for the series The Case Against Adnan Syed

  • The fictional story of Homecoming (Gimlet) was picked up by Amazon for Prime Video

  • Dr.

    Death (Wondery) is getting a TV series for NBCUniversal's streaming service Peacock

A race to the top

The idea behind Twitter's purchase of the podcast app Breaker isn't entirely clear to Sullivan at this point.

Initially, the company announced that it would close the app on January 15.

It is now known that the app will be in the hands of another party.

The people behind Breaker will stick with Twitter.

There they will work on the experimental audio function Spaces.

This indicates that the takeover is more of a so-called

talent acquisition

: bringing in talented employees.

“Sometimes companies make purchases that at first glance don't seem smart or useful, but in retrospect turn out to be,” says Sullivan.

"It's not entirely clear to me what Twitter's immediate goal is. I don't think Twitter wants to become a podcast company. They probably want to integrate audio more into the existing blogging service."

Alex, Inc.

(2018) starring Zach Braff was poorly received, in contrast to the first season of Gimlet's podcast StartUp.

Alex, Inc.

(2018) starring Zach Braff was poorly received, in contrast to the first season of Gimlet's podcast StartUp.

Photo: ABC

The winner takes it all

At the bottom of the line, the professor's step is certain.

Twitter wants the same as Amazon and Spotify: to be the most attractive platform possible, to attract as many people as possible.

Ultimately, this creates a network effect: the value of the platform increases as the number of users grows.

"The platform is creating its own momentum," said Sullivan.

"They want to increase their power. The platform will become so big that it makes competition unattractive. And existing, small competitors will be dropped, so that those users will also switch to the big players."

"Just look at YouTube. Google doesn't have to promote YouTube, because amateurs and professionals come to the site by itself because of its size.

The winner takes it all