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Amazon’s Purchase of Wondery Is a Big Bet on Podcast Advertising

Targeted ads—and all those Echo devices—could give the e-commerce giant a distinct advantage.

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Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The joke in the podcast industry is that the year ahead is always the year that on-demand audio will finally go mainstream. In some respects it’s already there: More than 100 million people in the U.S. listened to podcasts each month in 2020, while such popular programs as The Joe Rogan Experience and the New York TimesThe Daily have amassed large, loyal audiences, though podcasting is still dwarfed by over-the-air radio in terms of both overall audience and revenue.

Amazon.com Inc.’s Dec. 30 announcement that it was acquiring 4-year-old podcast network Wondery has industry insiders again saying the medium could turn a corner in the new year. The investment follows Sirius XM Holdings Inc., Spotify Technology SA, and a string of others spending hundreds of millions of dollars to buy podcasting companies.