Spotify Cancels 11 Original Podcasts, Trimming Slate as Part of Focusing on Bigger Shows

Spotify Cancels 11 Original Podcasts, Trimming
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Spotify is axing a small portion of its original podcast programming slate — canceling 11 out of approximately 500 current shows — as it looks to concentrate firepower on the biggest original and exclusive hits.

The 11 shows come from Parcast and Gimlet, two podcast studios that Spotify acquired in early 2019 as part of its buying binge in entering the space. The cutbacks will affect about 5% of Spotify’s total podcast staff, some of whom will be laid off while others will be reassigned to other teams, according to a source familiar with the change. No shows at Spotify Studios or the Ringer are being axed.

The shows being canceled are: from Gimlet, “How to Save a Planet,” “Crime Show” and “Every Little Thing”; and from Parcast, “Medical Murders,” “Female Criminals,” “Crimes of Passion,” “Dictators,” “Mythology,” “Haunted Places,” “Urban Legends” and “Horoscope Today.” Each of the podcasts will wind down over the next several months; “Horoscope Today” will extend into the second quarter of 2023, the source said.

Spotify declined to comment on the cancelations.

Spotify is paring back the podcast slate as part of focusing on its original and exclusive shows that have consistently hit the Top 20 on its charts. Those include hits like Warner Bros./DC’s “Batman Unburied,” Meghan Markle’s “Archetypes,” Alex Cooper’s “Call Her Daddy” and thriller “Caso 63” as well as high-profile projects like Kim Kardashian’s newly launched “The System” and other upcoming titles. Spotify’s most-listened-to podcast on a regular basis is “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which is available exclusively on the platform under a multiyear, $200 million-plus deal with Rogan.

Meanwhile, Spotify recently declined to renew its exclusive deal with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, originally inked in 2019. The Obamas’ Higher Ground subsequently reached a new deal with Audible for original podcast programming.

So far, Spotify’s podcast business has been a money-loser. In 2021, it generated nearly €200 million in revenue in 2021 with a negative gross margin of -57%, CFO Paul Vogel told investors in June. The podcast losses will be even higher this year, peaking in 2022, according to Vogel. Within the next five years, Spotify projects the podcast business to turn a profit with gross margins of 40%-50%, he said — higher than its core music-streaming business.

At the end of Q2, Spotify had 4.4 million podcasts on the platform — up from 2.9 million a year prior — and the number of monthly users who engaged with podcasts grew in the “substantial double digits” year over year, the company said. Spotify released 100 new original and exclusive podcasts globally in Q2, including “Batman Unburied.”

From Variety US