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Tracking: January 28, 2020

Recap. The busyness of January continues. Three stories from the last seven days:

(1) On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Apple is planning to finance original podcasts that would serve as companion media to its TV+ programming slate. At the moment, it’s unclear the extent to which these plans are connected to Bloomberg’s other podcast story from last summer, which reported that Cupertino was planning to bankroll original podcasts that would be exclusive to its platform more broadly. (Those plans were contextualized as efforts to better compete with impending podcast rivals, like Spotify.)

That earlier story kicked up a bit of anxiety from some corners of the podcast community about a balkanized future, one that would compromise open podcasting as we know it. If this TV companion podcast business is all there is to it, then maybe some of the worried can rest easy. Then again, maybe not.

(2) On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Mullin dropped a scoop that Serial Productions, the spin-off company of This American Life that houses Serial and S-Town, has been shopping around for a sale. Only one potential buyer was named: the New York Times.

A most peculiar development. I laid out a fairly length piece explaining why in Thursday’s Hot Pod Insider.

(3) Meanwhile, on Thursday, I was able to confirm that Endeavor Audio, the audio division launched by the entertainment conglomerate Endeavor in the fall of 2018, is pulling out of the podcast advertising business as part of a pivot and a broader restructure. As a result, the division has laid off its in-house sales team.

Miscellaneous News…

From Variety: “Meet Cute, a New York-based podcast company that focuses on romantic comedies, has secured more than $3 million in funding from a group of investors, including Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital and venture capital firm Union Square Ventures.”

Elsewhere, PodFund has put out a portfolio update note, which you can find here.

Meanwhile, in Vulture… I wrote about The Choice, which the New York Times created as a companion to their endorsement special on The Weekly.