Spotify Launches Video with ESPN, NBCU, Vice News, Comedy Central and More

Spotify is branching out from its core streaming-music biz to encompass shortform videos, announcing partners including Disney’s ESPN, ABC, NBCUniversal, Viacom’s Comedy Central, Turner Broadcasting, Conde Nast Entertainment and Vice News.

“We’re a music company at heart,” CEO Daniel Ek said at the company’s press event Wednesday — but it’s now looking to bring those users to video as part of their daily media diet.

The idea is to steer Spotify’s base of music listeners toward video: That will extend the “playlist” of their day in new ways, as Ek put it. But how successfully Spotify can make the leap into video remains unclear.

The new content and features are launching this week for users in the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Sweden, with additional territories to follow, Ek said. Spotify said it isn’t currently selling video ads for the service.

The privately held company has streamed more than 25 billion hours of music since it launched in 2006, according to Ek. Spotify claims to have more than 15 million subscribers, paying $10 per month, plus more than 60 million active monthly users in 58 markets. Its music catalog includes more than 30 million songs, with 20,000-plus added to the library each day.

Sweden-based Spotify has been criticized for not paying artists fairly for music streamed through its free and premium services. The most notable fracas has been with global superstar Taylor Swift, who yanked her entire catalog from Spotify last year, with her company claiming the singer’s releases would make far more money if they remained off Spotify. Meanwhile, music bigwig Jay-Z last month launched Tidal, a music and video subscription service, arguing that services like Spotify don’t provide a sustainable model for the industry.

With its foray into video, Spotify faces a host of rivals, not least of which is Google’s YouTube, still the 800-pound gorilla in the sector. Other competitors would include social services like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat; Internet-media hubs like Yahoo and AOL; and startups including Vessel, founded by ex-Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, which offers exclusive early access to video content to subscribers.

Spotify video partners include Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” Legendary Entertainment’s Nerdist Industries, Disney’s Maker Studios, Fullscreen, the BBC, TED and Tastemade (which said it will create two original shows for the service).

NBCU’s rollout on the Spotify mobile video platform will include clips from NBC, E! and Esquire Network including segments from “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “E! News.” The Peacock also recently struck similar deals with Vessel and AOL.

Meanwhile, cable programmer Turner will distribute clips from Adult Swim series, such as “Robot Chicken,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and “Rick and Morty” along with video segments from latenight show “Conan” hosted by Conan O’Brien to Spotify users in the U.S.; internationally, Turner will offer full-length episodes of some Adult Swim shows.

The company also announced a new feature, Spotify Running, that provides playlists based on a user’s listening history and running tempo, along with a pact with Nike to integrate the service into the Nike+ app later this summer.

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