All-new podcasts starring Batman, Wonder Woman — or Bugs Bunny — could be streaming to your headphones soon.
In the latest move to punch up its podcast biz, Spotify inked a multiyear pact with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment to produce and distribute an original slate of narrative scripted podcasts, which will be exclusively licensed to Spotify for a period of time.
The deal gives Spotify first-look rights to original scripted narrative DC podcasts based on its stable of Super Heroes and Super-Villains, which includes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and the Joker. The shows will have new storylines that are set in the DC Universe, unrelated to existing movies or TV shows (i.e., there won’t be a podcast tied to “Wonder Woman 1984”).
In addition to the DC-based podcasts, Warner Bros. will develop original scripted podcast series based on other properties — like Looney Tunes and Warner Bros. TV-produced shows like “Supernatural” — as well as original podcast projects unrelated to WB’s existing intellectual property.
For Spotify, the Warner Bros./DC deal marks its continued aggressive roll into podcast content. This spring it signed a $100 million-plus deal to exclusively distribute Joe Rogan’s “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast starting later this year, and has deals with Kim Kardashian West for an exclusive podcast about criminal-justice reform and with the Obamas for a slate of exclusive podcasts. It began its foray into podcasting last year by buying Gimlet Media, Anchor and Parcast; in February, Spotify snapped up Bill Simmons’ The Ringer, a deal centered on the startup’s podcast lineup.
Details about specific WB and DC projects for Spotify, including when they’ll launch, aren’t available. Spotify has committed to an annual slate of new dramatic and comedic podcasts from Warner Bros., but the companies declined to quantify the number of projects specified under the agreement.
On the Warner Bros. side, the Spotify partnership will be run as a cross-divisional effort led by Peter Girardi, EVP of WBTV’s Blue Ribbon Content digital studio and head of alternative programming at Warner Bros. Animation, and Robert Steele, SVP of business strategy and operations for Warner Bros. Digital Networks. The duo will co-develop and produce the programming in collaboration with Spotify, which will be responsible for marketing, advertising, and distribution of the shows exclusively on its platform. Girardi will serve as the creative lead and Steele is overseeing business aspects of the partnership.
“As we continue to see explosive growth in podcasting around the world, we are thrilled to partner with Warner Bros. to build this slate of programming drawn from the worlds of DC and WB,” Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content and advertising business officer, said in a statement.
Steele and Girardi added, “Warner Bros. has been synonymous with compelling and unforgettable storytelling for nearly a century, and we’re continuing to expand that legacy across all types of media platforms for our fans… We’re excited to bring beloved characters and franchises from DC and Warner Bros. into this new world and to use our storytelling prowess to redefine what’s possible in the scripted audio space.”
Warner Bros. has other podcast irons in the fire. In January, the studio’s Warner Bros. Digital Networks announced a first-look deal for narrative podcasts with Rainy Day Podcasts, a new company formed by Jagged Films partners Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman, producer Steve Bing and writer Josh Olson.
Spotify provides free, ad-supported or paid (ad-free) access to over 50 million songs and other audio tracks, including more than 1 million podcast titles. As of the first quarter of 2020, Spotify had 286 million users, including 130 million Spotify Premium subscribers.