Recently, the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE), one of the most-listened to podcasts internationally, announced that it’s going to Spotify on September 1st and is going to be exclusively available there from the end of this year. Rogan’s show receives millions of views on YouTube, and is also highly popular on podcasting platforms such as Apple Podcasts, (until this deal was announced, it was not available on Spotify). The podcast will be available to all Spotify users for free.
What’s most worrying about this is not that this is another example of a successful internet personality making an exclusive deal with a mega-corporation, or that the JRE may lose many of its listeners like Ninja lost viewers when he moved to Mixer from Twitch in a deal with Microsoft. The possible repercussions of deals like this for the podcasting industry as a whole are concering. Ever since the podcast was born fifteen years ago, they’ve been quite the opposite of their counterparts in music and video. Podcasts have traditionally been open, available and free to watch, not locked in to any one platform, unlike several video series on YouTube and artists who’ve made exclusive deals with certain music streaming services.
With Spotify striking this one-of-a-kind deal, not only are they going to bring many listeners to their growing podcasting platform for this show, but also might hook them in permanently to that part of their app. It’s become increasingly clear that Spotify is invested in developing a full-stack podcasting platform and seem set to take over the industry (and successfully take on competitors such as Apple Podcasts) with this new, closed approach. These kind of deals are not just unhealthy for the industry, they take away listeners’ choice, and lock them onto one platform.
If such deals are to be the future of podcasting (which is increasingly growing in popularity), it’s highly probable that it may end up plagued in a manner similar to how a lot of video content is fragmented between different streaming services right now - users would have to have multiple podcasting applications, some of which they pay with money, others with their data, and having to switch between them to listen to their favourite shows.
Spotify and its peers are going to have to play their next cards very carefully if they are to allow podcasts to continue flourishing as they have so far in their bright (and growing!) corner of the internet.