Did Joe Rogan’s Recent Controversies Actually Increase His Total Listeners?

Rogan and Spotify offer different explanations

Joe Rogan
Joe Rogan at UFC 262 on May 15, 2021.
Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Earlier this year, podcast host Joe Rogan came under fire after a number of past examples of his use of racist language resurfaced. Spotify deleted a number of episodes of his podcast from the service, and a number of high-profile musicians — Neil Young included — asked for their music to be removed from the service. A few months after the controversy, a better sense of its overall effect on both Rogan snd Spotify might have come into focus.

There’s a big emphasis on the “might have,” though. Because if a recent article in The Hollywood Reporter is any indication, Rogan and Spotify have slightly different takeaways from the whole controversy.

The article cites comments Rogan made on a recent episode of his show when his guest, Douglas Murray, asked him about the experience. Rogan’s response cited a statistic to the effect that the controversy had actually led to an increase in listeners.

“During the height of it all, I gained two million subscribers,” Rogan said.

When The Hollywood Reporter reached out to Spotify to confirm those numbers, however, they got a slightly different response. As THR‘s James Hibbard wrote, “sources clarified the show has been consistently growing since the podcaster joined the streamer and hasn’t spiked due to any particular event.”

Now, controversies leading to a spike in interest in something isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. But given that Time recently cited a figure of 11 million listeners per Rogan episode, it isn’t clear the two million subscribers Rogan referred to are in addition to that. It seems unlikely we’ll see an official public release of Rogan’s subscriber numbers any time soon — which suggests we might be talking about this for a while to come.

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