Much like the Obamas, the superheroes of the DC universe will soon be getting their own exclusive Spotify podcasts. Today, Spotify announced that it has locked down a multiyear partnership with Warner Bros. and DC, which will see the latter create original narrative scripted podcasts around its deep universe of characters to be distributed exclusively over the Swedish streaming platform.
Note the focus on both DC and Warner Bros.: This means we could theoretically see programs built around other kinds of Warner Bros. properties — Buffy? Supernatural? — as much as we’ll almost certainly see, say, shows built around Batman and Wonder Woman. According to the circulated press release, Blue Ribbon Content, Warner Bros. Television Group’s digital studio, will be overseeing the creative relationship, and it’s further worth noting that, according to Variety, these programs will be exclusively licensed to Spotify “for a period of time.”
Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen one of the two major comic-book companies step into podcasting. The first-mover honor goes to Marvel, which has made three audio fiction projects in partnership with Stitcher, the podcast company, since 2017: Wolverine: The Long Night, Wolverine: The Lost Trail, and Marvels. For what it’s worth, I thought those podcasts were effective enough, but what was really interesting about them was the way each production brought in creative talent that had significant histories in the podcast world. Both Wolverine seasons were directed by Love+Radio’s Brendan Baker, while Marvels was written by Lauren Shippen (The Bright Sessions, Passenger List) and directed by Paul Bae (The Black Tapes, The Big Loop).
It remains to be seen whether Spotify’s DC podcasts will do the same, or if they’ll end up primarily drafting creative and production talent from other entertainment circles. The announcement from Spotify and Warner Bros. today was pretty light on detail, meaning that we’ll just have to wait and see about the project choices, production details, and actual timelines for show rollouts.
Until then, what this move represents is yet another beat in Spotify’s ongoing push to accumulate exclusive programming assets that would aid in its quest for podcast dominance. This Warner Bros./DC news comes a day after the company announced it landed a deal with Kim Kardashian West to produce a show around her work with wrongful convictions, a project that will lie in the overlap of two strong podcast genres: celebrities and true crime. And a few weeks ago, Spotify publicly locked down The Joe Rogan Experience, widely believed to be one of the biggest podcasts in the world, in a multiyear exclusive licensing deal. All this, of course, comes in the wake of several spendy acquisitions over the past year and a half: Gimlet Media, Anchor, Parcast, and the Ringer.
We will almost certainly see more of these kinds of Spotify announcements in the days to come. But as the list of big names and the project hype stacks up, the key question remains: whether or not any of these shows will actually be worth listening to.