The New York Times Company has agreed to buy Serial Productions, the company behind the hit podcast “Serial,” The Times said on Wednesday, in the paper’s latest move to broaden its digital journalism.
The arrangement will allow Serial Productions to increase the number of shows it makes, said Julie Snyder, the executive editor of Serial Productions, and will allow those shows to then be promoted on The Times’s website, in its newsletters and through its other channels.
“The idea is to drive New York Times readers and listeners toward Serial projects,” Sam Dolnick, an assistant managing editor who oversees The Times’s audio efforts, said in an interview. “There’s going to be ways that we can help Serial tell more stories, bigger stories and, down the road, figure out how our newsroom and theirs can coordinate even more deeply.”
The Times paid about $25 million for the company, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
“Serial,” the series that investigated whether a Baltimore high school student, Adnan Syed, really killed his ex-girlfriend in 1999, was a hit when it came out in 2014 as a spinoff of the popular public radio show and podcast “This American Life.” It was followed by a second investigative journalism project, “S-Town,” from Serial and “This American Life.”
Serial Productions was formed in 2017 by Ms. Snyder; Sarah Koenig, the host of “Serial”; and Ira Glass, the host of “This American Life.”
Serial Productions has typically worked on only one project at a time, Ms. Snyder said, and the goal would be to increase that output. The partnership with The Times will allow the company to hire more producers, for instance, and could eventually draw in Times journalists for future stories, Mr. Dolnick said.
The Times also said it had established a “creative and strategic” partnership with “This American Life” to develop ideas for stand-alone podcasts that can run under the Serial banner.
The Times has moved steadily into audio and visual storytelling in recent years, as newspapers around the country continue to face an eroding print media business.
In 2017, The Times introduced the news podcast “The Daily,” and in 2019, the company teamed with FX and Hulu to begin a TV newsmagazine, “The Weekly,” which was recently rebranded as the monthly documentary series “The New York Times Presents.” This year, The Times bought the audio start-up Listen in Audio, the maker of the subscription service Audm, for $8.6 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.