Storytel confirms Israel as its third new target market, along with Indonesia and Thailand, as it makes its fourth acquisition in an eight week summer spending spree
Storytel has today announced its acquisition for an undisclosed sum of the Hebrew audiobook firm iCast, and its plans to launch Storytel Israel in the New Year.
Based in Tel Aviv, iCast began life back in 2006 as a podcasting service, and began offering audiobooks in 2011. In 2017 iCast partnered with OverDrive to offer its then 1,200 titles globally to digital libraries in the OverDrive network.
Today iCast fields over 2,500 Hebrew titles and is the market leader in the country, so an understandable acquisition target for Storytel.
Israel has 7 million people online in a country of almost 9 million.
Storytel CEO Jonas Tellander said:
We are excited to take Storytel to the tech-savvy Israeli consumer market with its rich storytelling traditions, confidence in digital products and payment solutions, and high degree of social interactivity both online and offline. The combination of iCast’s unique local expertise and Storytel’s proven commitment to investing in user-friendly technology, content and unmatched accessibility to popular stories is a strong combination. And it certainly implies large growth potential and an awesome new chapter for the Israeli story lovers and the audiobook.
For iCast, CEO and co-founder Moti Lippman, who will assume the role of Country Manager when Storytel IL launches, said:
I’m very proud and thankful for the iCast team’s dedication and devotion that has created both an audiobook market in Israel and a business that shows profit for the third year in a row. Storytel’s unique global experience, scale and technical capability undoubtedly create the prerequisites to take the Israeli audiobook market to the next level regarding user experience, content development, production and marketing, making the audiobook relevant to even more consumer groups on the Israeli market. It is going to be an exciting journey that we can’t wait to start.
The iCast acquisition is just the latest in a Storytel summer spending spree that has seen Storytel buy the Arabic audiobook service Kitab Sawti,
the Swedish audiobook service EarSelect
and the Icelandic publishing house Forlagið.
But with $96.5 million in the expansion kitty Tellander can afford to splash out.
Although geographically part of the Middle East there’s no suggestion that Storytel IL will be part of the Storytel MENA hub run by former Kitab Sawti boss Sebastian Bond, and which will presumably remain Arabic-language focussed.
That said, there are obvious content synergies and Storytel IL will benefit from both Storytel’s Arabic and English content when it launches.
Last month Storytel confirmed it would be launching in Thailand this year and Indonesia in 2021.