• Dr. Justin Quinn

The Ringer Purchased by Spotify As Streaming Giant Seeks to Expand Its Podcasting Imprint

Nearly a decade after creating Grantland, and less than half that after starting The Ringer, sports media mogul Bill Simmons may be on to his next project after selling his most recent creation to the streaming giant Spotify.

News of the sale broke on February 5th, but it is the fourth major podcasting network scooped up by the streaming service, which spent nearly $400 million dollars to purchase Anchor, Gimlet and Parcast in 2019.

The Ringer was targeted for the boost they can provide Spotify in the highly-popular sports podcasting niche, though the pop-culture-related media and all 90 employees of The Ringer will reportedly be kept on, with the website and its text content to continue as usual.

In an investor call on Saturday, Hollywood Reporter's Natalie Jarvey reports Spotify CEO Daniel Ek as saying, "I think we bought the next ESPN", noting the loyalty of the imprint's audience as a major boon to the company going forward.

"With this acquisition, Spotify continues to deliver against its goal to become the world’s leading audio platform," the streaming giant said. "We look forward to putting the full power of Spotify behind The Ringer as they drive our global sports strategy."

With the move, the company adds The Ringer's podcast network of over 30 shows in addition to the text and video content available on the website. Spotify had 124 million paying subscribers and 271 million overall users to close 2019, and this move should push those figures even higher.

All content from The Ringer will continue to be free to access at this time, though it's not impossible that could change in the future.

With the success of subscription-based Sports print media seen in organizations like The Athletic, and the growth of subscription-based podcasting as can be found on the Spotify-owned network Luminary, some of the best sports print and audio media may be headed behind paywalls in a not-too-distant future.

On one hand, the success of the model will help bankroll a new iteration of quality sports journalism and analysis sorely lacking in a click-driven ecosphere that is the contemporary sports media status quo. On the other, tiered access to the most timely and well-produced content could also potentially further degrade the overall quality of mass media content circulating among those unwilling or unable to manage multiple subscription-based services.

Whatever becomes of the move, if nothing else, it highlights the growing popularity of sports podcasts and podcasts more generally as a form of popular media. And with a giant like Spotify getting behind the trend early, we could be seeing a pivot toward audio unlike anything since the early days of radio broadcasting.

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