Controversies and PR headaches weren’t enough to dissuade Spotify from re-upping its agreement with podcaster Joe Rogan, whose show over the past couple of years drove divisions among music fans and artists alike and even prompted some big names, like Neil Young, to pull their catalogs from the streaming service. Regardless, the show remained popular enough to earn the top spot as users’ most-listened-to podcast every year since coming to Spotify in 2020. Now, Spotify’s relationship with the podcaster continues, as the company announced a new, multiyear agreement with Rogan, estimated at $250 million over its term, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The deal will offer Rogan a minimum guarantee upfront along with a cut of the ad sales, the Journal said. (Spotify told us the number being reported is incorrect, however.)
Critically, Rogan’s show will no longer be exclusive to Spotify.
Rogan’s deal with Spotify came about at a time when the company’s strategy was focused on building a set of exclusive and original programs to make its service more competitive with Apple Podcasts and others. The company invested billions to build its podcast business, investing in studio and IP acquisitions as well as new technologies, including ad tech, before shifting course last year. Spotify’s head of its podcast business, Dawn Ostroff, resigned, and the company conducted layoffs. Under Ostroff’s lead, Spotify had snatched up studios like Parcast, The Ringer and Gimlet Media, and signed exclusive deals with Rogan, Alex Cooper (“Call Her Daddy”) and Dax Shepard.
This week, news broke that Cooper’s show would no longer be limited to Spotify, and would launch on other audio platforms, like Apple. Video of the show, however, would remain on Spotify. The move follows others that had seen Spotify loosening its grip on its exclusives, like last year’s news that Gimlet would expand its shows to other platforms. Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” and “anything goes with emma chamberlain” had also rolled out more broadly, leaving Rogan’s show as Spotify’s remaining exclusive. And now it is no more.
Spotify’s change in direction comes as the company continues to struggle to regularly turn a profit, having reported its first quarterly profit in a year and a half back in October. By making the former exclusives available across more platforms, Spotify will have the ability to grow the ad dollars those shows deliver. That may now be more desirable than keeping them locked up as an incentive for new subscribers.
It could also take some of the heat off Spotify when Rogan wades into controversial territory. In 2022, the streamer faced backlash after Rogan was accused of using his platform to spread misinformation. That led Spotify to adjust its policies and include content advisories, but ultimately the artist departures, the #cancelspotify campaign and the negative headlines did not impact Spotify’s paid subscriber numbers at the time, nor give a boost to Spotify’s streaming rivals.
“JRE remains podcasting’s king, consistently ranking as the most-listened-to podcast globally and our users have ranked the show as Spotify’s Wrapped top podcast each year since 2020,” noted Spotify in today’s blog post. The company said JRE now has more than 2,200 episodes available, and that the podcast is the No. 2 most-listened-to show for women over 13 in the U.S., per Edison, as well as the No. 1 show overall as of Q3 2023.
Since joining Spotify, overall podcast consumption has grown 232% and ad revenue grew 80% from 2021 to 2023. JRE ad revenue grew 45% in 2023.
Updated, 2/2/24, 2:10 PM ET Updated to note that Spotify disputes the figure being shared by the Journal. However, it declined to comment on deal terms.