Midroll Media

Moving to corner a larger share of the fast-growing podcast market, E.W. Scripps has purchased audio on-demand service Stitcher for $4.5 million in cash. The eight-year-old spoken word audio aggregator will be folded into Midroll Media, the podcast network Scripps acquired in July 2015.

The deal gives Scripps a larger podcast footprint by marrying Stitcher’s distribution and technology with Midroll’s ad network and content creation. Scripps says the acquisition will help broaden Midroll’s consumer base and technology capabilities.

Founded in 2008 as an on-demand talk and news audio service, Stitcher signed distribution deals with talent such as Adam Carolla and content providers including Premiere Radio Networks, Fox News Radio, The Wall Street Journal Radio Network and NPR. Its technology allows users to “stitch together” radio shows and podcasts into a continuously updated station that streams on the user’s mobile device. Stitcher also cut deals with automakers, putting its app in the dashboard of more than 50 car models. It was purchased in 2014 by French music streaming service Deezer. Currently, the company, which is based in San Francisco, streams 65,000 podcasts to 8 million registered users.

“The Stitcher brand is recognized to be an early mover and innovator in on-demand audio, especially with connected cars,” Adam Symson, chief digital officer for Scripps, said in a release. “Stitcher’s data-driven technology has made it a leader in podcast discovery and audio distribution, which will complement Midroll’s leadership in content creation and advertising sales.”

Erik Diehn, VP of business development for Midroll, said the podcast network has long been a fan of Stitcher’s “incredible reach and pioneering work in the audio landscape” and that its integration with Midroll “can accelerate the podcast industry’s growth” and help further connect audiences with shows.

Stitcher’s 12-person workforce will join Midroll and operate out of San Francisco. Stitcher’s general manager and VP of Product, Todd Pringle, will lead all of Midroll’s product development and will have continued responsibility for the Stitcher’s product development team. Scripps says Stitcher’s sales and editorial staff will join their Midroll colleagues in their respective disciplines.