New York Times acquires ‘Serial’ producer

In this file photo taken September 6, 2018 a man holds his smartphone in front of the New York Times building in New York. — AFP pic
In this file photo taken September 6, 2018 a man holds his smartphone in front of the New York Times building in New York. — AFP pic

NEW YORK, July 23 — The New York Times said it will acquire Serial Productions, which created a hugely popular long-form news programme credited with sparking today’s podcast boom.

Created by the producers of This American Life, the gold standard of US public radio shows, Serial Productions introduced the podcast called Serial in 2014.

It popularised the “true crime” documentary genre but also delved into investigative work of its own.

In its first season, Serial probed the case of Adnan Syed, who was serving a life sentence for the murder of his former girlfriend, which he said he did not commit. The 12-part podcast prompted a court to reopen the case, which went all the way to the US Supreme Court, but in the end it left in place a ruling that he must stay in prison for life.

The four seasons produced by Serial were downloaded a total of 625 million times.

Terms of the acquisition were not announced.

After the purchase, Serial Productions will keep making podcasts with that brand name and be amplified by the Times, the paper said in a statement yesterday.

The acquisition will also allow Serial Productions to produce more series than it had in the past.

Serial Productions is preparing to launch its first podcast as a unit of the Times on July 30, called Nice White Parents.

“To understand what’s wrong with our public education system, you have to look at what’s arguably the most powerful force in our schools: White parents,” the paper said in an ad for the series.

The Times entered the world of podcasts in 2017 with a current events programme called The Daily, which instantly became one of the most popular in America. — AFP

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