Spotify inks new multiyear deal with podcast host Joe Rogan

Spotify announced Friday it has signed a new multiyear agreement with Joe Rogan, the host of one of the most popular — and polarizing — podcasts in the U.S.

In a notable change from Rogan’s previous deal with Spotify, “The Joe Rogan Experience” will no longer be exclusive to the audio giant. “The show will soon be available on additional platforms,” the company said in a news release.

“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,” the Stockholm-based company said in the release.

The announcement comes as Spotify appears to be charting a different course in its podcast content strategy, shifting away from exclusive arrangements that limited the reach of successful shows.

Spotify recently ceded exclusivity rights on another popular podcast, Alex Cooper’s “Call Her Daddy.” The technology website The Verge summed up the shift in a headline this week: “Spotify’s exclusivity era nears its end.”

“The Joe Rogan Experience” was the most popular podcast in the U.S. in the third fiscal quarter of 2023, according to Edison Research. Rogan has more than 16 million subscribers on YouTube, which has recently hosted only short clips from his show.

Rogan, a former sitcom star and stand-up comedian, cultivated a devoted following as a media titan and unlikely political pundit. But he has also proven to be a lightning rod for controversy. He drew intense criticism two years ago for propagating Covid misinformation, for example.

“I’m not trying to promote misinformation. I’m not trying to be controversial,” Rogan said in a 10-minute Instagram video at the time. “I’ve never tried to do anything with this podcast other than just talk to people and have interesting conversations.”

Rogan has also attracted scrutiny for comments seen by detractors as racist, homophobic and transphobic. He has criticized transgender women competing in professional women’s sports and made comments last year that the Anti-Defamation League blasted as antisemitic.

The news of Rogan’s new deal with Spotify was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which said that the agreement was worth up to $250 million. Rogan’s previous deal with the company was reportedly worth around $100 million.

NBC News has not independently confirmed those figures, and Spotify did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

In recent years, Spotify’s heavy spending on podcasts helped it leapfrog Apple, which was once seen as the market leader. Spotify locked up exclusive deals with Dax Shepard (“Armchair Expert”), and Barack and Michelle Obama‘s Higher Ground Productions.

But those two high-profile exclusivity pacts have ended, and Spotify is increasingly focused on franchises that can exist on other audio services, such as Apple and Amazon Music.

Spotify remains the leading audio streaming platform worldwide, but it has had trouble turning that dominance into profits. The company is worth more than $40 billion and boasted more than 226 million paying customers as of the third quarter last year. But it only eked out around $69 million in operating income (a way some companies calculate profit) during that period.

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