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Amazon Looking to Invest in Local Podcast Content

Amazon wants to invest in localized podcast content like news and sports.

Amazon  (AMZN) - Get, Inc. Report is looking to invest in localized podcast content like news and sports, according to a media report.

Shares were up of the Seattle online-retail and tech giant were at last check little changed at $2,424.

The company is using its venture arm tied to voice innovation, Alexa Fund, to invest in local podcast companies, according to Axios. 

Amazon has evaluated investing in localized sports podcast companies like Blue Wire, Axios said, citing a source.

It's looking to tap into a more localized ad market by serving up local ads adjacent to that hyper-personalized audio content. Local advertising is a roughly $150 billion market in the U.S.

The company wants to explore short-form audio content that can be surfaced when users ask Alexa for information about topics like news and sports.

Axios said Amazon officials are debating internally whether the podcast content will live within Amazon's audiobook company Audible, Amazon Music, Amazon Alexa or all three.

Several companies have been investing in podcasts. Streaming company Spotify  (SPOT) - Get Spotify Technology SA Report has spent more than $500 million in the past two years to acquire Gimlet Media, Anchor, Parcast and the Ringer. 

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Last week, Spotify said it reached a reported $100 million deal with podcaster Joe Rogan, host of "The Joe Rogan Experience." That's among the top-ranked podcasts today, with millions of listeners per episode and a regular rotation of high-profile guests.

The podcast will debut on Spotify Sept. 1 and will be available exclusively on the platform.

Podcast listening had been slipping during the coronavirus outbreak, but it appears to be improving.

The week of May 11-17 was up 4% for downloads and up 3% for audience compared with the previous week, according to Podtrac, the Washington audience-measurement and ad-services provider.

This is the fourth consecutive week in which download growth has been flat or positive and the fifth straight week in which audience growth has been flat or positive. 

Amazon declined to comment on the report.