The New York Times Company announced that it would acquire Serial Productions, the company that produces the groundbreaking Serial podcast. In addition to the acquisition, The Times also announced that it had entered into an ongoing creative and strategic alliance with This American Life that will enable it to continue to collaborate on long-form audio stories with Serial Productions and to collaborate on marketing and advertising sales with The Times. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Serial Productions is a team of audio’s best and most successful long-form journalists and narrative storytellers led by Julie Snyder, Sarah Koenig and Neil Drumming. Each episode of Serial’s first season was downloaded 20 million times on average and is credited with igniting the current podcast boom. This American Life is the iconic, long-running, weekly public radio program, founded by host and executive producer Ira Glass.
As a Times company, Serial Productions will commission and edit its own stories and they will now be amplified by The Times. The acquisition will allow the Serial team to tell more stories and produce more series than they had previously.
With The Daily, Serial, and the strategic alliance with This American Life, The Times has now brought together three of the most important audio brands in the world. Along with other chart-topping shows and series, including 1619, Rabbit Hole and Caliphate, as well as the recent acquisition of Audm, The Times will continue to build new listening habits across a range of formats. Creating a strong audio report aligns with the company’s broader goal to help audiences understand the world around them through journalistic storytelling.
Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer of The New York Times Company said, “We’ve seen the power that audio can have in building deeper connections with our audience and we’re committed to bringing listeners the best audio journalism in the world. What better way to show that commitment than by acquiring Serial, the most celebrated and innovative podcast series ever produced and by partnering with This American Life, a program that quite simply transformed the genre. We launched The Daily in 2017 and it has quickly become the most listened to news podcast in the country. Our goal is to continue to evolve our audio offerings and to chart a sustainable course for high-quality, immersive audio journalism.”
Sam Dolnick, an assistant managing editor who oversees Times audio said, “We have been enormous admirers of This American Life and Serial for years and their work has inspired and informed our own. We feel confident the Serial and This American Life teams share our desire to continue to find groundbreaking ways to tell stories, grow listenership and help more and more people better understand the world. They are as mission-driven as we are and we’re so excited to welcome them to The Times family.”
Julie Snyder, the executive editor of Serial Productions said, “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. 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.”
Ira Glass said, “For years now, when people ask me to recommend a podcast, the first one I mention is The Daily. Effusively. Gushingly. It’s so impressive, how The Times jumped into audio journalism, and made a show that uses the medium so well. I also love how The Daily and the other Times podcasts are narrative journalism, like our show. They tell stories, with characters and feeling, and, of course, because they’re The Times, a lucid analysis of the world around us. I can’t imagine a better partner for the journalism we and Serial do than The Times, and look forward to continuing to invent this still-young world of podcasting with them at our side.”
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 now, with the first two episodes available on Thursday, July 30 on NYTimes.com or wherever you get your podcasts.
This American Life remains an independent company and will continue its weekly broadcasts on public radio and its podcast.