The top-rated and popular podcast “Serial,” which became a white-hot success on iTunes last year, is expanding its reach to streaming service Pandora this year. Pandora announced Monday that it would begin hosting the award-winning podcast as well as “This American Life,” of which “Serial” is a spin-off. The series will still be available on iTunes and other podcast apps.
A premiere date for season two of “Serial” hasn’t been announced, but season one will be available on Pandora on Nov. 24.
Pandora’s move to offer “Serial” follows a trend by other streaming services towards podcasting. A year ago Deezer purchased the podcast-organizing app Stitcher and last week Google announced it would begin accepting podcast submissions for its Google Play Music service. In May, Spotify said it would begin streaming news, radio and podcasts.
The first season of “Serial,” which included 12 episodes, told the story of Adnan Syed, a Baltimore high school student who was found guilty in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. “Serial,” hosted by veteran radio producer and former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, won a Peabody Award this year.
“For people already listening to ‘Serial’ and ‘This American Life,’ nothing will change. But we believe lots of people who’d like our shows simply haven’t heard of them, or haven’t started listening to podcasts,” Ira Glass, editorial adviser of “Serial” and host of “This American Life,” said in a statement.
“‘Serial’ is the biggest podcast in the world, but only 17 percent of Americans listen to podcasts at all,” he said. “That’s why it’s so exciting for us to work with Pandora. Pandora reaches millions of people who never listen to public radio or download podcasts. This’ll get our shows to them.”
Once “Serial” premieres, episodes will be available Thursdays at 6 a.m. EST, Pandora said.
Syed, the subject of season one, is serving life in prison. The podcast raised questions about evidence, witnesses and the effectiveness of Syed’s attorney, who was later disbarred. The series grew more popular as each episode aired, and inspired listeners to debate Syed’s guilt or innocence.
Pandora said more than 8 million people have downloaded each episode of the first season of “Serial.” Pandora will air episodes in five-minute chunks, though listeners who wish to listen to the entire podcast can do so without interruption.
Pandora’s CEO called “Serial” and the streaming service “a perfect fit.”
“We are always looking to delight our listeners with engaging and cutting-edge programming, while ‘Serial’ is looking to reach the largest audience possible. This gives Pandora listeners yet another reason to tune in,” Brian McAndrews said in a statement.
In September, Maryland attorneys said Syed shouldn’t be granted a new trial after his lawyer argued that cell tower data placing Syed near the murder scene was unreliable.