Apple

Controversial Joe Rogan Spotify podcast cost may have been $200M or more

The Joe Rogan Spotify podcast cost was widely reported to have been $100M, though neither party commented on it. However, a new report today says that the actual cost was at least twice that…

Even at $100M, it was looking like Spotify had paid a lot of money for what is now looking more like a liability than an asset, but the New York Times cites two sources saying that it was double this.

To help propel Spotify into its next phase as an all-purpose audio juggernaut, and further challenge Apple and Google, it wanted a superstar podcaster, much as Howard Stern helped put satellite radio on the map in 2006. Spotify executives came to view Joe Rogan — a comedian and sports commentator whose no-holds-barred podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” was already a monster hit on YouTube — as that transformative star.

In May 2020, after an intense courtship, Spotify announced a licensing agreement to host Mr. Rogan’s show exclusively. Although reported then to be worth more than $100 million, the true value of the deal that was negotiated at the time, which covered three and a half years, was at least $200 million, with the possibility of more, according to two people familiar with the details of the transaction who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss it.

The podcast was already a controversial acquisition, but things got very much worse when Rogan propagated COVID-related hoaxes, both through his own comments and by inviting fringe guests onto the show to make baseless claims about the pandemic and the vaccine.

That saw Neil Young pull all his music in protest, followed by Joni Mitchell. Former royal couple Harry and Meghan, who have a $25M podcast deal with Spotify, also expressed concern.

A letter signed by 270 scientists and doctors called on Spotify to introduce a misinformation policy.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Joe Rogan has repeatedly spread misleading and false claims on his podcast, provoking distrust in science and medicine. He has discouraged vaccination in young people and children, incorrectly claimed that mRNA vaccines are “gene therapy,” promoted off-label use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 (contrary to FDA warnings), and spread a number of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. In episode #1757, Rogan hosted Dr. Robert Malone, who was suspended from Twitter for spreading misinformation about COVID-19. Dr. Malone used the JRE platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have “hypnotized” the public. Many of these statements have already been discredited. Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust. These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous […]

We, the undersigned doctors, nurses, scientists, and educators thus call on Spotify to immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform.

Rogan has also used a racial slur on multiple occasions and laughed at a report of a sexual assault.

Photo: Harry Cunningham/Unsplash

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