Spotify is staying in the Joe Rogan business.
The music streamer and audio platform on Friday announced a new multiyear agreement with Rogan renewing its partnership with the polarizing host of its most popular podcast. In a sign of the changing economics of the industry, the new deal will allow Rogan’s show, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” to be distributed on multiple platforms, including YouTube and Apple Podcasts. Under the previous deal, it was exclusive to Spotify.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal reported that it could be worth as much as $250 million over the life of the deal. Spotify will handle ad sales and distribution. A representative of Spotify declined to comment on the deal terms. A company blog post announcing the news said the show has consistently ranked as its most listened to podcast globally.
“These conversations have changed the way I think about life immeasurably and continue to do so,” Rogan said in an interview accompanying the blog post. “I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do it.”
Rogan’s initial deal with Spotify in 2020, which executives said was worth more than $200 million, set the high-water mark of podcasting’s big spending era, in which several tech and media companies competed to turn on-demand audio into a major moneymaker. Spotify, eager to expand beyond the low-margin music streaming business, has spent more than $1 billion on its podcasting ambitions, placing significant bets on several podcasting companies and star hosts, including Rogan, Kim Kardashian, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Obamas and Alex Cooper, the host of “Call Her Daddy,” all of whom it signed to exclusive deals.
Several of those deals didn’t pan out. Gimlet and Parcast, two production companies Spotify acquired in 2019, were wound down last year after a series of layoffs. And Kardashian’s and the Sussexes’ podcasts lasted for just one season. Last January, after an earlier round of layoffs, and the departure of the chief content and advertising business officer, Spotify’s chief executive Daniel Ek said that he “probably got a little carried away” and “over-invested” in content acquisition.
But overall listenership has continued to grow. Last September, the company said it had more than 100 million regular podcast listeners, up tenfold from 2019, and it has projected that its podcast business will break even this year.
Spotify’s support for Rogan has remained constant throughout its podcasting travails. It stood by its marquee talent in 2022 after Rogan came under fire for interviews on his show that spread doubt about the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and for racist comments that he made earlier in his career. Those controversies led a handful of prominent artists — including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and India.Arie — to remove their music from the platform and sparked a #DeleteSpotify campaign on social media.
“The Joe Rogan Experience” remained extremely popular, reaching tens of millions of listeners with its biggest episodes. Under the new deal, Rogan will be able to expand that audience outside of Spotify, which has pivoted away from its exclusivity model in an effort to cut costs and grow advertising revenue. Earlier this week, the company announced that Cooper’s “Call Her Daddy” will also be distributed to other platforms.