Spotify Cancels ‘Heavyweight’ and ‘Stolen’ Podcasts Following Massive Layoffs — Stock-Price Surge Continues

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Spotify stock has surged following news of sizable layoffs as well as podcast cancellations. Photo Credit: Kenny Eliason

Yesterday, Spotify stock spiked after the streaming company announced plans to lay off 17 percent of its team. Now, amid news of additional cutbacks yet, affecting two podcasts, shares have hit $200 apiece.

Word of these latest podcasting cancellations just recently entered the media spotlight, and Spotify stock (NYSE: SPOT) this morning cracked $200 per share for the first time since early 2022. As we previously reported, the Gimlet and Parcast owner has for a while been trimming podcast expenses, after injecting massive sums into the space (and elsewhere) as part of a well-documented attempt to diversify beyond recorded music.

Against the backdrop of a vastly different economic climate and a push for profitability, however, these reduction efforts have expanded to multiple areas during 2023. Evidently, though, that doesn’t mean podcasters are in the clear, for Spotify has now axed two more of its programs, Jonathan Goldstein’s Heavyweight and Connie Walker’s Stolen.

According to Bloomberg, the Gimlet podcasts will conclude their current seasons before being shopped around. Elaborating upon the latter, a company spokesperson said Spotify “will work with the show creators to ensure a smooth transition for wherever these series go next.”

In October of 2022, Spotify nixed 11 other Gimlet/Parcast programs, proceeding in December to pull the plug on several live audio shows. Then, June of this year saw the service part ways with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, lay off 200 podcasting employees, and combine Gimlet and Parcast into a single unit.

Bearing in mind these podcasting cuts and the aforementioned profitability objective, speculation is building as to whether Spotify will keep The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) exclusive.

Spotify reportedly spent $200 million on the program under a 3.5-year deal, but as we’ve covered, the company, podcasting, and the economy alike have changed dramatically since the agreement closed. Of course, especially given the shift towards consistent profitability, weighing against reupping (for Spotify) is the considerable price tag at hand.

But on the other side of the coin, JRE is perhaps the only uncensored long-form conversation podcast today capable of attracting such a variety of high-profile guests, among them (for 2023) Sam Altman, Post Malone, Marc Andreessen, and Jelly Roll.

Also worth highlighting is that Spotify hasn’t abandoned podcasting investments altogether while striving for increased efficiency. Rather, the professional home of Trevor Noah looks to be prioritizing podcasts that release quality episodes on a regular basis and, because of their conversation-centered format, can develop sizable audiences via a combination of frequent listeners as well as fans of individual guests.