Some tectonically big news from the podcast world: Spotify has signed The Joe Rogan Experience, which previously wasn’t available on the platform, to a multiyear exclusive licensing deal. Not only has Spotify made what was the last big holdout available on its platform, but the service will also (eventually) be the exclusive home to what’s widely believed to be one on the biggest — if not the biggest — podcasts in the business.
To be clear: This is a pure licensing deal, in the sense that Rogan maintains full creative control and ownership over the show. The arrangement is similar to what’s been done with The Joe Budden Podcast, which was originally signed in August 2018, and The Last Podcast on the Left, which was first announced last November and eventually realized as an exclusive in February.
A few details to note. Firstly, the timeline: The Joe Rogan Experience will start appearing globally on Spotify on September 1, and will only become exclusive to the platform a few months after that. Secondly, the exclusivity applies to both the audio and video components of the show. In addition to being a massive podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience also drives considerable viewership over on YouTube, where the podcast posts video recordings of the interview tapings, typically averaging well over a million views each. This twin-format nature of the exclusivity ties into recent reports of Spotify dipping its toe back into video, specifically with tests around video podcasts (or “vodcasts”).
And finally, I should note that The Joe Rogan Experience is represented by Podcast Media Marketing for podcast ad sales. I’m told PMM — which, interestingly enough, also reps Serial, Anna Faris Is Unqualified, and Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard — has an agreement with Spotify to continue repping the show.
So, this is a big deal. Like, big big. The actual numbers are fuzzy, but Rogan has mentioned on the podcast that it reaches about 190 million downloads a month, and, again, the show is widely believed to be one of the biggest revenue generators in the industry. The terms for the Spotify licensing deal were not disclosed, but I imagine a whole lot of money was involved in this arrangement.
While controversial in many ways, The Joe Rogan Experience has long been a massive touch point for the podcast ecosystem. It’s the kind of show that ends up being a gateway podcast for many, many people who otherwise wouldn’t have picked up a podcast. By securing this deal, Spotify has effectively rounded out what has turned out to be a near-comprehensive invasion of the podcast space — it’s genuinely hard to see how Apple, the ecosystem’s incumbent facilitator and default rival, can match up against this, or anyone else, for that matter.
As the chief executive of a major podcast company texted me shortly after the news first went out, “Game, set, match.”