Getty Images/CNNMoney
Now playing
01:39
Spotify is beating Apple. Now what?
John Oliver addressed the recent fatal police shootings of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo in a passionate monologue on "Last Week Tonight."
Last Week Tonight/HBO
John Oliver addressed the recent fatal police shootings of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo in a passionate monologue on "Last Week Tonight."
Now playing
01:38
John Oliver to White Americans: 'March in the streets'
CNN
Now playing
03:20
Brianna Keilar: Fox is not news, no matter what it calls itself
John Avlon 0413 Wallace
CNN
John Avlon 0413 Wallace
Now playing
03:31
Avlon compares Tucker Carlson's comments to George Wallace
Fox News/Twitter
Now playing
01:33
ADL wants Fox News to fire Tucker Carlson over racist comments
Now playing
01:54
'You think I'm racist': Former Fox News host storms off camera
CNN
Now playing
03:37
'The fraud is this farce': Cuomo calls out Fox News host
CNN
Now playing
05:00
Watch Alisyn Camerota sign-off CNN's New Day
Camerota Berman both
CNN
Camerota Berman both
Now playing
02:33
CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota gets surprise tribute from co-anchor
CNN/HBO/"Q: Into the Storm"
Now playing
05:35
Filmmaker says he potentially uncovered man behind QAnon
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 30:  Anti-vaccine activists hold up signs during a protest in front of the Massachusetts State House against Governor Charlie Baker's mandate that all Massachusetts school students enrolled in child care, pre-school, K-12, and post-secondary institutions must receive the flu vaccine this year on August 30, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Scott Eisen/Getty Images
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 30: Anti-vaccine activists hold up signs during a protest in front of the Massachusetts State House against Governor Charlie Baker's mandate that all Massachusetts school students enrolled in child care, pre-school, K-12, and post-secondary institutions must receive the flu vaccine this year on August 30, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:06
Research exec: Far-right groups pushing vaccine as 'mark of the beast'
stelter chauvin trial international coverage kethevane gorjestani sot rs vpx_00000000.png
stelter chauvin trial international coverage kethevane gorjestani sot rs vpx_00000000.png
Now playing
02:19
How the rest of the world is covering the Derek Chauvin trial
CBS This Morning
Now playing
01:57
Hunter Biden makes rare comment about seized laptop
Fox News
Now playing
03:43
Tucker Carlson's interview with Gaetz gets uncomfortable
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: News headlines on the impeachment trial of Donald Trump are displayed outside of the Fox headquarters on February 09, 2021 in New York City. After listening to nearly four hours of legal arguments, the Senate has voted on Tuesday to move ahead with the impeachment trial of former President Trump. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: News headlines on the impeachment trial of Donald Trump are displayed outside of the Fox headquarters on February 09, 2021 in New York City. After listening to nearly four hours of legal arguments, the Senate has voted on Tuesday to move ahead with the impeachment trial of former President Trump. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Now playing
04:03
Dominion Voting Systems files $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News
 President Donald Trump waves as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House, on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Al Drago/Getty Images
President Donald Trump waves as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House, on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
01:35
Trump praises Capitol rioters 'hugging and kissing the police'
(CNN) —  

While most media companies are focusing on video, Spotify wants to be all about audio.

The company’s CEO, Daniel Ek, is investing heavily in podcast production and making a play for radio listening while invoking concerns about excessive “screen time.”

On Wednesday he announced two acquisitions, Gimlet and Anchor, and said the company has other deals in the works. All in, Spotify plans to spend $400 to $500 million on the “emerging podcast marketplace” this year, according to the company’s guidance to investors.

The idea is to expand Spotify’s current offerings – betting that this will help retain existing subscribers and spur new subscribers to sign up.

Ek, portraying video as a trillion dollar market and audio as a $100 billion market, said “I always come back to the same question: Are our eyes really worth 10 times more than our ears? I firmly believe this is not the case.”

“With the world focused on trying to reduce screen time, it opens up a massive audio opportunity,” Ek said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Spotify has been leaning in this direction for the past two years, first by adding podcast listening capabilities and funding some original shows.

Around the same time, the company pulled the plug on an effort to make TV-style series.

Apple dominates the podcast industry, but Spotify has established itself as an important platform for podcasters.

And Wednesday’s moves showed just how serious the company is. Gimlet Media, the bigger of Wednesday’s two acquisitions, is a five-year-old podcast studio with shows like “Reply All,” “Conviction” and “Homecoming,” which has been made into a television series on Amazon.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Spotify is reportedly paying about $230 million for Gimlet.

The company said Wednesday that it won’t flip a switch and make Gimlet’s existing shows exclusive to Spotify subscribers, but that Gimlet will be charged with making new shows for those subscribers.

“We want to grow the number of shows that we have,” Ek said in an interview on CNBC Wednesday morning.

The company wants to be both a producer of podcasts and a platform for distributing them – an audio version of the enduring content versus distribution tug of war.

To that end, Wednesday’s other acquisition, Anchor, is a four-year-old provider of podcast-making tools. No purchase price has been reported for that deal.

Ek was clear about his plans for further podcast-related acquisitions this year.

“We’re very much focused on being in audio,” he said on CNBC. “Video is a huge space, it’s got the attention of everyone right now. But we think audio, being almost two hours of consumption per day, is a massive opportunity that no one’s really paying attention to.”

Radio executives agree, but they’ve been hobbled by the digital revolution. The two biggest radio companies in the United States, iHeartMedia and Cumulus, have both been in bankruptcy proceedings in the past year.

Both of those firms have pursued podcasting opportunities too. But there remains a lot of doubt about how profitable the podcast industry can become.

In 2017 IAB, an industry trade group, estimated that podcast ad revenues in the U.S. totaled $314 million – an 86% increase in just one year, but a minuscule dollar amount when compared to radio and television.

Of course, Spotify works differently. Its business is about satisfying paying subscribers.

Ek’s blog post on Wednesday was reminiscent of Netflix’s investor letters several years ago, when that company began a serious push into original programming.

“Ultimately, if we are successful, we will begin competing more broadly for time against all forms of entertainment and informational services, and not just music streaming services,” Ek said. “We welcome this.”