Commentary

Spotify Bringing On Bill Simmons And 'The Ringer'

As podcasts continue to reshape the mobile landscape, Spotify just agreed to buy The Ringer -- a media company that specializes in sports news and commentary.

The Ringer is the brainchild of Bill Simmons, a well-known sportswriter, analyst, and podcaster, who worked for ESPN for a number of years.

Dawn Ostroff, Chief Content Officer at Spotify, describes Simmons as “one of the brightest minds in the game [who] has successfully innovated as a writer and content creator across mediums and platforms.”

Founded in 2016, The Ringer now boasts about 30 podcasts, including “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” “Winging It With Vince Carter,” and “The Ryen Russillo Podcast.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Spotify has shown a willingness to spend big money on podcast producers.

Last year, the Swedish streaming giant paid about $337 million for podcasting companies Gimlet Media and Anchor FM, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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That represented a big chunk of the $400 million to $500 million that Spotify said it planned to spend on podcasting companies, last year.

Driven by better mobile technology and a wave of wordy hosts, podcasts have taken the world of media and entertainment by storm.

Last year, researchers from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications found that nearly 75% of podcast listeners had been tuning in for less than three years.

The researchers also found that millennial males still make up the majority of podcast audiences, which helps explain why The Ringer caught Spotify's attention.

Putting a damper on the deal, Spotify reported fourth-quarter earnings that failed to meet analyst expectations, this week.

On the bright, Spotify reported better-than-expected subscriber growth.

After adding about 11 premium members, the company said it ended the quarter with roughly 124 million subscribers, which was up 29%, year-over-year.

During the period, Spotify’s total monthly active user base increased to 271 million, which was up 31%, year-over-year.

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