Spotify’s deal with Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host who has attracted a swarm of controversy in recent weeks, is worth more than $200 million, according to a new report by the New York Times. Variety confirmed the figure via a source knowledge of the pact.
Citing anonymous sources, the Times reported that “the true value” of the deal negotiated between Spotify and Rogan — spanning three and a half years — was “at least $200 million, with the possibility of more.” Previously, the pact had been said to be worth more than $100 million, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
In addition, Ava DuVernay — who last year inked a multiyear first-look deal with Spotify for podcasts through her Array production company — has severed her ties with the audio company, as first reported by the Times. Representatives for Array did not provide a reason for why the company terminated the deal.
Spotify declined to comment.
Over the past month, Rogan has faced a backlash from Spotify users and artists over his use of the N-word in past episodes of his podcast and accusations that Rogan’s show has spread COVID misinformation.
On the Feb. 8 episode of his podcast, Rogan complained that a viral video compilation of him using the N-word two dozen times was “a political hit job.” Just three days earlier Rogan, in an Instagram post, apologized over the supercut clip of him saying the N-word, calling it “the most regretful and shameful thing I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.”
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek earlier this month sent a memo to employees saying the he was “deeply sorry” for how the Rogan controversy has affected them. But, he wrote, “I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer… canceling voices is a slippery slope.” That came after Spotify pulled 70 episodes “The Joe Rogan Experience” from the platform, dating from 2009 to 2018. The company said it removed those at the request of Rogan and his team after talking about his “racially insensitive” language in some episodes.
The spotlight on Rogan intensified last month after Neil Young demanded Spotify remove his songs or drop Rogan’s podcast, citing COVID misinformation on the podcast that was called out by a group of more than 260 health care professionals and scientists. Young’s boycott has been joined by a handful of other artists, including Joni Mitchell, India Arie, and David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.