Two unlikely podcasting networks — NPR and Spotify — are teaming up. The companies announced a new distribution deal today that’ll bring select NPR programs, like Planet Money, TED Radio Hour, and Invisibilia to Spotify’s global audience. NPR first brought its shows to Spotify in 2018, but only for US audiences because of various regulations and country-specific licensing structures. Now it’s able to distribute those shows globally, although the details of the new arrangement remain unclear. The companies won’t be sharing revenue or jointly selling ads from this broader distribution deal, but they both have committed to respective marketing pushes.
The new agreement speaks to Spotify’s reach around the world and simultaneous role as both a formidable competitor to networks like NPR and an essential ally. Spotify has signed exclusive podcasting deals with big names and effectively moved to push the podcasting industry toward more of a walled-garden approach. This puts some of its competitors in an awkward position, specifically if they were looking to contract some of this talent or if they find Spotify promoting its in-network shows over theirs. In this case, NPR knows Spotify is available on both iOS and Android and is available in many countries around the world, making it a crucial partner for releasing programming everywhere. They’re playing nice for now.