On Wednesday, iHeartMedia announced a deal with Scripps to acquire Triton Digital, an audio and podcast advertising-tech company, for $230 million. Under the proposed deal, all 166 Triton employees are joining iHeartMedia and CEO Neal Schore will continue to lead the company.
Scripps in 2018 bought Triton for $150 million, so the iHeartMedia sale represents a 53% premium on that price tag (and an after-tax return in the mid-20% range). The pact comes after Scripps sold its podcast company Stitcher in October 2020 to SiriusXM for $325 million.
The companies expect the Triton Digital deal to close in the first quarter of 2021, pending usual closing conditions including regulatory approval.
For iHeartMedia, Triton marks the fifth audio-tech acquisition in the past three years. The company previously bought Voxnest, a podcast marketplace, ad-serving and analytics provider; Jelli, which runs an ad-buying platform for broadcast radio that includes digital programmatic buying; Radiojar, a cloud-based audio playout platform; and Unified, a social ad data intelligence platform and solutions provider.
With Triton, iHeartMedia said, it will now be able to provide a full ad-service package that spans on-demand audio, broadcast, internet radio and podcasting. “Adding Triton Digital and its industry-leading services to the iHeartMedia audio ecosystem establishes iHeartMedia as the only company with a total audio advertising technology and data solution,” iHeartMedia chairman/CEO Bob Pittman said in a statement.
Scripps has sold off digital-audio assets at the same time it expanded its local TV business with the $2.65 billion deal for Ion Media, which closed in January. Scripps said it will use proceeds from the Triton sale to pay down debt.
“We remain focused on bringing our debt back down to our company’s historical levels as quickly as possible while at the same time we reap the financial benefits of being a new leader in national television as we have been in local broadcast,” Scripps president and CEO Adam Symson said in announcing the deal with iHeartMedia.
L.A.-based Triton Digital operates in more than 50 countries. It has two primary lines of business: advertising infrastructure and ad measurement, including a content delivery system that distributes digital audio streams and podcasts to listeners while dynamically inserting ads. Triton also runs a programmatic marketplace for digital audio programmatic ad-buying.
As part of iHeartMedia, Triton will continue to serve the broader industry, according to CEO Schore.
“We remain deeply committed to providing the world’s broadcasters, podcasters, and online audio publishers with continuously innovated, best-in-class solutions and services for online audio management, advertising, and consumption data, and are well positioned to enhance iHeartMedia’s value proposition to audiences and advertisers,” he said in a statement.