The deal with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Archewell Audio brand was announced in 2020 and produced but a single season of Archetypes, a series hosted by Markle. Spotify and Archewell have “mutually agreed to part ways” and the latter company will retain rights to the podcast and IP. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Duchess may continue to “develop content for the Archetypes audience on another platform.”
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We’re not here to dunk on the podcast itself, which featured an A-level mix of celebrities (Serena Williams, Mariah Carey, Mindy Kaling, Constance Wu, Paris Hilton, Issa Rae and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez) over its 12-episode first season, and also won a 2022 People’s Choice Award, beating out popular series by Conan O’Brien, Dax Shephard and Nicole Byer. And at least early on the show was a streaming success. And credit to the couple for speaking up against Spotify podcasters who disseminated false Covid information.
But in three years, the exclusive agreement between Archewell and Spotify only produced those 12 episodes and a December 2020 holiday special. That’s not much content for a reported $25 million deal. While Spotify went all in over the past few years in getting exclusives and big names to the streaming site, it appears that market has peaked. Earlier in June the company announced 200 layoffs in its podcast division, which followed last year’s cancellation of 11 podcasts.
Spotify has also recently allowed other high-profile deals to lapse, including one with the Obamas. Given that there are already too many podcasts in general (three million and counting) and the iffy ad market for these programs, it might behoove Spotify and other podcast creators to create fewer big-name (and inconsistently updated) titles and offer up more time, care and promotion for more professional (and entertaining) series.
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