The New York Times has acquired the audio production company behind the popular podcast series Serial, which is widely credited with helping popularize the modern narrative podcast movement. The company, called Serial Productions, was formed in 2017 by Sarah Koenig, Julie Snyder, and Ira Glass after the success of the podcast’s initial season three years prior, and the team has gone on to produce two follow-up seasons of Serial and a standalone podcast called S-Town. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
As part of the deal, The Times is entering into what’s being described as an “ongoing creative and strategic alliance” with This American Life, the syndicated radio program from which Serial was originally spun off and for which Glass still works as a host. The parent company of This American Life will remain independent, but Serial Productions will now be considered one of The Times’ independent podcast teams alongside the hugely successful The Daily and other programs.
The first joint show from the new combined teams, detailed below, starts next week:
As Serial Productions joins The Times, the team plans to produce a number of shows and series under The Times and Serial Productions banner. The first, “Nice White Parents,” will bring listeners along with award-winning reporter Chana Joffe-Walt as she examines the role white families play in shaping public education. You can listen to the trailer tomorrow, with the first two episodes available on Thursday, July 30 on NYTimes.com or wherever you get your podcasts.
“We’re incredibly proud of ‘Serial’ and wanted to find a home where we felt shared values, one where we would be supported and resourced to tell more stories, of the highest quality,” Snyder, who is Serial Productions executive editor, said in statement. “We’re thrilled to be joining The Times, where they have demonstrated a commitment to pursuing the possibilities of audio and long-form narrative journalism.”
The Times deal will greatly benefit the paper’s growing audio journalism ambitions, but it’s also a signal that the podcast market is becoming ever more competitive and now experiencing some consolidation as a result. Spotify, for example, is using its financial might to scoop up exclusives with big names like Kim Kardashian West and Joe Rogan, after having acquired big podcast production companies like Bill Simmons’ The Ringer and Reply All parent company Gimlet Media.
Earlier today, Spotify announced a new video podcast feature that will mean its competing even more directly with YouTube. And Apple, which has remained one of the biggest distributors of podcasts to date, also revealed plans to get into the originals game with its announcement of a new daily news podcast of its own earlier this month.