Spotify buys Gimlet and Anchor in podcast push, earmarks $500M for more deals

Spotify is going after podcasts in a major way in 2019.

The music streaming service today confirmed that it has snapped up two podcast networks — Gimlet and Anchor — in undisclosed deals. But that’s not all; the firm said it has plans to spend $400-$500 million this year “on multiple acquisitions” to get even deeper into the space.

The Gimlet deal is said to be upwards of $200 million, according to Recode — which broke news of the deal last week — but it isn’t yet clear how much the company has spent on Anchor, which helps podcasters record their shows and then distribute them online.

The deals are a major push for Spotify, but the writing has been on the wall for those paying attention. We reported last month from CES that Spotify is going after podcasting this year. The company has been going after exclusive shows — at CES it added “Unbothered” from journalist Jemele Hill — while it is also working on specialist ad units around its podcast network.

We’ve heard Spotify talk a big game on “the future of radio” before, but this time around it is putting money behind its ambitions. The big strategy, beyond catering to the growth of podcasts, is to develop a new channel for consumption of its core business as Courtney Holt, the head of Spotify Studios, told us in January.

“People who consume podcasts on Spotify are consuming more of Spotify — including music,” Holt said. “So we found that in increasing our [podcast] catalog and spending more time to make the user experience better, it wasn’t taking away from music, it was enhancing the overall time spent on the platform.”

That also includes a much more personal and tailored approach to content, which is important, given that Spotify offers a catalog of more than 40 million tracks.

“Think about what we’ve done around music,” Brian Benedik, VP and Global Head of Advertising Sales at Spotify, told TechCrunch. “The more understanding you have around the music you stream, the more we can personalize the ad experience. Now we can take that to podcasts.”

Update: Article correct to reflect that Spotify plans to spend up to $500 million this year including the deals for Gimlet and Anchor.