Spotify registered its largest spike in new subscribers in a quarter at the end of last year, rising 29% from 2018 to hit 124m premium subscribers globally.

The service had 271m monthly active users at the end of 2019, a rise of 31% from 2018. That total was up 11m from the third quarter. The company has had three consecutive quarters of MAU growth.

Total revenue for the company topped $2b in Q4, a rise of 24%. Ad-supported revenue rose 23% to $239m.

It posted a net loss of $230m, and in a letter to investors, Daniel Ek’s company warned that the build-out of the podcast business means negative numbers on the ledger will continue for a while.

“Any decision to accelerate our investment in podcast and technology spend should be viewed as an indication of our belief that our strategy is having tangible results,” the letter read. “We have gained even more confidence in the data, particularly around the benefits from podcasts, and as a result, 2020 will be an investment year.”

They reported that more than 16% of Spotify users listen to podcasts, as consumption hours nearly tripled in the quarter from 2018.

“Podcast listening is driving overall health in our business,” Ek said during a call with analysts.

Spotify is predicting that by the end of the year it will have between 328m and 348m MAUs and as many as 153m premium subscribers.

Ek noted the company had been seeing a significant resurgence of use in the Nordic countries and add that user growth is the strongest indicator for future subscriber growth. “We’re confident the longer the user stays with us, the more likely they are to become a paying user,” he said.

The company then announced it had acquired sport and entertainment content creator The Ringer from founder Bill Simmons.

On the conference call, Ek noted, "Radio is moving online and, with The Ringer, we bought the next ESPN."

In a statement, Spotify Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff said, "We look forward to putting the full power of Spotify behind The Ringer as they drive our global sports strategy. As we set out to expand our sports and entertainment offerings, we wanted a best-in-class editorial team. Bill Simmons is one of the brightest minds in the game and he has successfully innovated as a writer and content creator across mediums and platforms. The Ringer's proven track record of creating distinctive cultural content as well as discovering and developing top tier talent will make them a formidable asset for Spotify."

The transaction is expected to close within two months.