The E.W. Scripps Company said Wednesday it will pay $150 million in cash to buy digital audio tech and measurement provider Triton. Scripps president and CEO Adam Symson said the acquisition positions Scripps, which owns podcasting platforms Stitcher and Midroll, “to expand its role in the fast-growing global digital audio marketplace.” The purchase price is $35 million less than what Audioboom agreed to pay for Triton in a reverse takeover in February, in a deal that was later aborted because the U.K.-based podcast specialist was unable to raise the necessary funds.
According to Scripps, Triton’s 2018 revenue is projected to be approximately $40 million, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA, a measure of cash flow) projected in the mid-teen millions. Triton’s 2019 revenue is projected to grow in the low to mid-teens percent range over 2018.
Over the past 12 years, Triton has become the industry standard by which digital audio is measured, said Symson, while its infrastructure and ad-serving solutions are fueling growth for the world’s top audio companies.
Triton’s clients include radio’s largest companies, such as iHeartMedia, Entercom, Cumulus and NPR, along with leading web pureplays Spotify and Pandora. In recent months it has cut numerous deals to provide digital audio services to companies internationally, while expanding its a2X global programmatic buying platform to integrate additional ad exchanges.
The deal comes as Scripps is in the process of selling its 34-station radio business to multiple buyers. While it is exiting broadcast radio to focus more intently on growing its TV station group, the acquisition of Triton signals the company remains bullish on digital audio and intends to continue investing in growth businesses. “The acquisition of additional television stations remains our No. 1 M&A priority, with the goal of enhancing our national scale and in-market depth for our Local Media portfolio,” Symson said. “On the National Media side, acquiring Triton complements our strategy of owning growth businesses that capitalize on the evolving habits of media consumers and furthers our commitment to margin expansion.”
The global digital audio marketplace is projected to grow to $14.8 billion in 2022, according to Statista, thanks to ubiquitous smartphones, the explosive growth of smart speakers in homes and slowly growing adoption of connected cars.
“Joining Scripps, a company known for its focus on the future of media, will support our continued innovation and will strengthen the products and services we offer to our clients here in the U.S. and as we continue our expansion across the globe,” said Triton co-founder and CEO Neal Schore. He and his veteran management team will continue to lead Triton.
The transaction is set to close before year end. Moelis & Company served as financial advisor to Triton for the transaction.