Audio streaming platform Spotify announced on Tuesday that it will not renew contracts for two popular podcasts, “Heavyweight” and “Stolen,” showing its attempts to cut down on podcasting while struggling with consistent profitability. The shows, produced by Gimlet Media, will have the option to find new homes. Spotify acquired Gimlet Media in 2019. “Heavyweight” was hosted by Jonathan Goldstein and focused on people’s life stories over seven seasons. Connie Walker created “Stolen,” which received the Pulitzer Prize for audio reporting this year for investigating hundreds of Indigenous children in Canada’s residential school system. The move comes as Spotify announced a third round of layoffs in a year, amid economic uncertainties and unfulfilled growth. Nick Quah, writer of HotPod, mentioned that both tech and media companies are maintaining investments in daily or weekly shows, cutting back on series, which are harder to make profitable. Additionally, a 2023 report from Edison research showed that podcasts have more mainstream listeners than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic initially drove much of Spotify’s growth, leading to big investments in podcast companies, but the apparent boon v. faded leaving Spotify with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of product. Eric Nuzum, co-founder of the independent studio Magnificent Noise, noted that Spotify’s business model with subscriptions and advertising led to its uncertainty in serving podcasting. He also criticized Spotify’s decision to keep some podcasts exclusive on the platform, claiming it limited growth potential. Recent moves indicate Spotify is focusing on bringing in celebrities with built-in fan bases to make podcasts successful, such as Bruce Springsteen, Barack Obama, Meghan Markle, and Joe Rogan.
Spotify pulls the plugs on ‘Heavyweight’ and ‘Stolen’ podcasts
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