Vice Media, in another bid to diversify its revenue mix, struck a deal with Spotify to distribute three podcast series exclusive on the streaming platform.
Vice News will produce the trio of original podcast series, combining long-form narrative, talk, and investigative journalism, covering the 2020 U.S. election and current events worldwide. The deal follows Vice News’ release of podcast “Chapo: Kingpin on Trial” on Spotify in November 2018.
Add another pillar to Vice’s post-HBO survival strategy. The new podcasts include a look at Iowa’s 2020 primary, a docu-series on the opioid crisis, and a yet-to-be-determined international project, all of which will launch staggered over the next year only on Spotify.
It’s fascinating to me that we’ve gotten to the point where podcasts from major news organizations launch with production assistance from distributor partners. It says a lot about the state of the podcast industry, the future of an open podcast ecosystem, and the state of the media business in general.
First, it’s evident the podcast market has matured to the point where launching a new show requires a significant investment to make the show high-quality enough to succeed; something a lot of media companies are wary or unable to provide. But since podcast distributors are in the middle of a war for dominance, they are willing to fit the bill to get more content on their platforms. Vox has used this strategy in the past; their daily podcast Today Explained and a upcoming Recode podcast are both financed by Stitcher.
But those Vox podcasts are available on any podcast app; Vice’s podcasts will be exclusive to Spotify. For a medium founded on the principal of universal distribution, podcasts are suddenly getting more siloed off.
Good for Vice News for finding another partner to work with; bad for the consumer because it’s another step towards walled gardens for podcasts.