November 13, 2019

Endeavor, Always Looking to Grow, Starts Podcast Division

Endeavor Audio also plans to finance and codevelop up to 10 podcasts with Mass Appeal, a media company that counts the rapper Nas as an investor and focuses on what it calls urban culture. Additional clients include “Limetown,” a fictional podcast (season 2 starts on Oct. 31) about the disappearance of 300 people from a neuroscience research facility; and Parcast, a start-up that specializes in lurid podcasts like “Cults” and “Female Criminals” that gives Endeavor Audio an immediate network of some nine million downloads a month.

So far, efforts to turn podcasts into hit television shows — the bigger gold mine, by far — have been disappointing.

The television rights for “Serial” were sold three years ago, but a series never emerged. In May, ABC abandoned “Alex, Inc.,” a comedy adapted from a Gimlet Media podcast, after a handful of low-rated episodes. On a brighter note, HBO recently ordered more comedy specials built around the “2 Dope Queens” podcast and Amazon has found a modicum of success with “Lore,” based on a horror podcast of the same name.

But television executives — now three years into “peak TV” and increasingly desperate for ideas — are looking harder at podcasts. Amazon has high hopes for “Homecoming,” a coming drama starring Julia Roberts and based on another Gimlet podcast. (Gimlet is represented by Creative Artists Agency, which also has a growing podcast business.) The Los Angeles Times’s scam-artist podcast, “Dirty John,” may spawn two shows: In deals brokered by WME, a scripted “Dirty John” drama is coming to Bravo and Oxygen is working on a spinoff.

Endeavor has been working to grow by any means possible since 2013, when Mr. Emanuel pulled off a $2.3 billion deal to buy IMG, which negotiates media rights for sports leagues and handles licensing for more than 200 colleges, among other vast operations. To add to its bulk, Endeavor has invested in or purchased at least 16 additional companies since then, including U.F.C., the mixed martial arts organization, and Miss Universe, which runs a variety of pageants.

Endeavor has also asserted itself as a financier and seller of movies and TV shows, creating a new entity last year called Endeavor Content that has supplied hits like “Killing Eve” to BBC America and “Book Club” to Paramount Pictures.

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