In 2020, when podcasting was at its peak boom, Spotify signed a three-year exclusivity deal with Joe Rogan, thought to be worth $200 million.
That deal expires sometime near the end of 2023, and Spotify's CEO, Daniel Ek, is under pressure.
In her piece for the Verge
, Ariel Shapiro says:
"Rogan is still the best bet the company has ever made. He remains the top podcaster in the world, and it’s not close."
But on the other hand, Daniel Ek is under a lot of pressure to pull back Spotify's investment in podcasting. During Spotify's April earnings call
, the CEO admitted he'd overpaid and over-spent on podcasts. At that time, they also reported a net loss of $248 million and admitted the podcasting business wasn't yet profitable.
That said, it's very likely that Spotify wants to renew its deal with Joe Rogan.In her article
, Ariel Shapiro comments:
"If he walks or (less likely) if Spotify chose not to renew, it would be another massive blow to the company’s podcasting editorial operation."
Another interesting question is whether or not there's another platform with the desire and financial capacity to license the Joe Rogan Experience.
For example, I believe it's unlikely that Apple Podcasts would make a deal; I don't think they have the temperament to work with Rogan. Plus, they've invested little in producing or licensing podcast content in-house: Bloomberg reports
they've only spent about $10 million.
I believe there are only three contenders that might be interested: SiriusXM, Amazon, and YouTube.
First up, SiriusXM. They've made huge investments in personalities before—look at Howard Stern's massive deal
. But would they stretch their budget even further for Rogan? It's possible but seems unlikely.
Then we have Amazon. With deep pockets and a growing interest in podcasting demonstrated by their acquisition of Wondery
, they could be serious contenders if they double down on their audio investments.
And lastly, YouTube. Rogan's clips thrive on the platform, and while they haven't paid for exclusivity in the past, the potential ad revenue for both parties could be too tempting to ignore.
I'm skeptical that any of these platforms are as eager to spend hundreds of millions of dollars securing Joe Rogan. These big players jumped into podcasting because it was the hot new thing; and after Spotify's splashy $1 billion dollar investment, there was a lot of pressure to follow suit.
But now Spotify seems to be hitting the brakes, and now we're seeing other companies pull back their investment as well.
In her article
, Shapiro also mentions that Rogan could return to being independent. I know other analysts who disagree with me
, but I think that would mean far less money than he's getting from Spotify.
My bet: Joe Rogan wants to stay with Spotify, and CEO Daniel Ek wants to keep him.I'm curious what you think!
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