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Amazon to buy Wondery, injecting Amazon Music into a hot bidding zone for podcasts

But Wondery's podcasts won't disappear from other platforms besides Amazon Music, the company says.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Joan E. Solsman
Ben Fox Rubin
2 min read

Amazon includes a music service with its Prime membership program, and it offers a Spotify-like unlimted version of it for another price. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Amazon will acquire podcast publisher Wondery, the latest tech giant investing in podcasts in the hope of popularizing its streaming services (and, by extension, the hardware sells you to access them). But Amazon, which operates the Amazon Music audio service, said Wondery's programming -- which includes such podcasts as Dirty John, Dr. Death and Business Wars -- will continue to be available through a variety of providers after the deal closes.

Financial terms of the deal are confidential, Amazon said. The Wondery acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, which are still pending. 

"When the deal closes, nothing will change for listeners, and they'll continue to be able to access Wondery podcasts through a variety of providers," Amazon said. "With Amazon Music, Wondery will be able to provide even more high-quality, innovative content and continue their mission of bringing a world of entertainment and knowledge to their audiences, wherever they listen."

Amazon offers various tiers of Amazon Music streaming services that range in price, including one that's free with a Prime membership, and another that offers playlists and stations free with ads on any Alexa device. Amazon Music Unlimited is the company's paid subscription service that competes with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music; it costs $10 a month for non-Prime subscribers. 

Music and audio are the primary uses for smart speakers like the Alexa-powered Echo devices, one of Amazon's blockbuster device lines. The purchase of Wondery puts it among the ranks of tech giants like Apple leaning into entertainment services in the hope of making hardware purchases more appealing. 

It also injects Amazon into a increasingly intense bidding field for top podcast properties. Spotify has led this surge in interest, investing hundreds of millions of dollars to buy podcast publishers and lock down exclusives deals for podcasts from the likes of Joe Rogan, Barack and Michelle Obama and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the duke and duchess of Sussex. 

Watch this: Amazon's spherical smart speaker offers entertainment in the round