- Spotify announced its plans to acquire sports and entertainment media company The Ringer, which has more than 30 podcasts in its network.
- The deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, will further expand Spotify's podcast catalog after it acquired three podcasting companies last year.
- On a call with analysts Wednesday, CEO Daniel Ek said he thinks that with The Ringer, "we bought the next ESPN."
Spotify did not disclose the terms of the deal and said it expects it to close in the first quarter of 2020.
The deal follows three podcast acquisitions Spotify made last year: Gimlet Media and Anchor, which it acquired for a total of about $340 million, and Parcast, which it acquired for about $55 million.
The Ringer, founded by sports writer Bill Simmons in 2016, has more than 30 podcasts in its network, including "The Bill Simmons Podcast," "The Rewatchables" and "The Ryen Russillo Podcast." It also produces nonscripted films, books and online content.
"What we really did with The Ringer, I think, is we bought the next ESPN," Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told analysts on a call following the company's fourth-quarter 2019 earnings report Wednesday. "We think that's going to be a tremendously valuable property as we look at the development of sports over the next decade and the billions of people that will start listening to audio."
"We're just very excited about it, and yeah, we will invest in that trend," he said.
Spotify said in a press release its hopes The Ringer deal will help it become "the world's leading audio platform." In an interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer and David Faber following Spotify's announcement of the Gimlet and Anchor deals last year, Ek compared the ramped-up investment in podcast companies to Netflix's investment in original content, though he said it won't be at the same scale.
"It's really about expanding our mission from just being about music to being about all of audio and being the world's leading audio platform," Ek said at the time on "Squawk on the Street."
The Ringer Union and Writers Guild of America East, which was recognized by management in August, tweeted a statement following the news of the deal.
"We anticipate a productive relationship with new management for all Ringer staff members," the groups said. "After weeks of public reports about a potential sale circulating without comment from our senior managers, we look forward to hearing from [management] about how this transaction will affect our day-to-day work. We expect management to meet promptly with the bargaining committee to discuss these matters."
Spotify reported a fourth-quarter loss per share of 1.14 euros compared with a loss of 0.22 euros analysts were expecting, according to Refinitiv. The company reported quarterly revenue of 1.86 billion euros compared with 1.89 billion euros, according to Refinitiv. The stock was down 4.7% Wednesday, dragging its market value down $1.3 billion, bringing it to $27 billion.
— CNBC's Julia Boorstin contributed to this report.