US audio streaming subscription service Spotify is acquiring The Ringer, the multimedia sports and pop culture vehicle created four years ago by popular media figure Bill Simmons.
Simmons, who became a prominent national writer and podcaster during a long run with ESPN, has since built The Ringer into its own brand name, particularly around the fast-growing world of podcasting. Spotify will use assets from The Ringer to help build its sports profile, expand its primary presence to date in music.
Spotify will also be hiring Simmons and all of The Ringer’s team of about 90 employees, and intends to maintain The Ringer’s website.
Financial terms were not disclosed. But the The Ringer last year reportedly was seeking around $100m in acquisition talks with Warner Media that did not materialize.
“We look forward to putting the full power of Spotify behind The Ringer as they drive our global sports strategy,” said Dawn Ostroff, Spotify chief content officer. “As we set out to expand our sports and entertainment offerings, we wanted a best-in-class editorial team. Bill Simmons is one of the brightest minds in the game and he has successfully innovated as a writer and content creator across mediums and platforms.”
The deal is slated to close by the end of March.
“We spent the last few years building a world-class sports and pop culture multimedia digital company and believe Spotify can take us to another level,” Simmons said.
Spotify has purchased three other podcasting companies in the past year in addition to The Ringer, laying out about $400m in acquisitions for Gimlet Media, Parcast, and Anchor FM.
The Ringer began in 2016 with backing from WarnerMedia’s HBO, and Simmons had a short-lived sports talk show on that premium cable network. In addition to the podcasting and written content, Simmons has also led documentary development through the Ringer Films divisions, whose credits include the widely acclaimed film Andre the Giant.
The Ringer-Spotify deal comes just a week after casino operator Penn National acquired Barstool Sports, another sports and pop culture brand with a strong presence in podcasting.