'Serial' producers plan to become 'podcasting Netflix'

With more shows in development, a new true-crime mystery will arrive in March

'Serial' producers plan to become 'podcasting Netflix'

The case and conviction of Adnan Syed (bottom left) for the murder of his girlfriend became a global smash hit podcast in 2014 [Serial]

The production team behind Serial, the true-crime podcast that turned on the world to the medium by becoming a global smash hit, has announced that they have formed a new production company that will strive to become the ‘Netflix’ of podcasting.

Serial Productions, which will see the podcast divest from The American Life, also unveiled its first original project, S-Town. Hosted by The American Life’s Brian Reed, S-Town is described as a non-fiction limited series set in a rural Alabama town.

Production on S-Town began when a man contacted This American Life, a long-running radio show based in Chicago presented by Ira Glass, complaining about life in his Alabama town. He asked for a reporter to begin investigating claims made by the son of a wealthy family who was allegedly bragging that he had gotten away with murder.

True crime on demand

When Reed started looking into the case as a potential story for This American Life, someone else wound up dead, and the team, which also worked together on Serial, realised they had found another fascinating mystery about a “nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure and the mysteries of one man’s life.”

S-Town is slated for release at some point in March, with Serial Productions following the Netflix model of releasing all seven episodes at the same time. While not unheard of in the podcasting game, this would be the first time a high-profile podcast has attempted to capture a binge audience while telling a serialised narrative.

After Serial’s second season focussed on the case of Bowe Bergdahl, an army soldier held captive for five years in Afghanistan and Pakistan, S-Town will sound more familiar to those who were hooked on the case of Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999. Serial Productions reportedly also has a further two podcasts coming down the pipeline, although it is unclear whether either of these is the third season of the Sarah Koenig-presented Serial.

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