Peter Chernin (Courtesy of Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
Spotify and Chernin Entertainment have formed a multiyear partnership to adapt the audio streamer’s original podcasts for television, film and digital video. Under the first-look deal, the two companies will collaborate 50-50 on investing in developing new projects.
The two companies plan to hire a development exec to identify promising podcasts who will dual-report to Chernin Entertainment president Jenno Topping and Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content officer and advertising business officer. The deal covers Spotify’s growing slate of more than 250 original series, across Gimlet Media, Parcast, Spotify Studios, and Bill Simmons’ The Ringer, representing thousands of hours of content.
Peter Chernin, chairman and CEO of the Chernin Entertainment banner, called the Spotify podcast library a “treasure trove” of unattached intellectual property.
“We have spent a lot of time since the birth of the company thinking about IP,” Chernin told Variety. The company has adapted multiple books (including “Planet of the Apes”) and with recent podcast boom he saw the opportunity to throw in with Spotify. “What’s impressed us is the innovation in storytelling on podcast platforms,” Chernin said. “They are telling stories with no images – just dialogue and sound effects.”
Chernin said the two companies “are just starting to dig through the Spotify podcasts” for potential projects with no decisions yet on specific targets. In some cases, Chernin Entertainment and Spotify may decide to pilot a project first as a podcast, he added.
Ostroff commented in a prepared statement, “At Spotify, we believe that the extraordinary growth of audio will continue to attract the world’s great creators and make podcasts a premier destination for original IP. As we continue to expand our content ambitions, we are thrilled to collaborate with Peter Chernin, who, along with his exceptional team, are the perfect partners to help us share these stories with audiences across mediums and around the world.”
Before they officially inked their first-look deal, Spotify and Chernin Entertainment had already teamed on a forthcoming TV adaptation of true-crime podcast series “The Clearing,” from Gimlet and and Pineapple Street Media — about a woman who learns as an adult that her father was a serial killer.
Separately, Spotify has already launched nearly a dozen film and TV projects based on its podcasts, including the adaptation of Gimlet’s scripted thriller “Homecoming” for Amazon’s Prime Video (starring Julia Roberts). Upcoming projects include a series based on Gimlet’s “The Two Princes” at HBO Max and “The Horror of Dolores Roach” (also from Gimlet) for Prime Video.
Chernin Entertainment, meanwhile, last year picked up rights to adapt Endeavor Audio podcast “Blackout,” a scripted apocalyptic thriller starring Rami Malek. (Malek is not attached to the TV project at this point.)
With its focus on building up the podcast side of the house, Spotify has seen a steady uptick in user listening over the last year and says podcast listeners stay engaged with the platform longer than average. All told, Spotify’s podcast lineup now comprises more than 1.5 million titles, although the vast majority of those are not exclusive or original shows.
Past Chernin Entertainment credits include Oscar-nominated films “Ford vs. Ferrari” starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale; director Ted Melfi’s “Hidden Figures” starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe; and “The Greatest Showman” starring Hugh Jackman. The company also produced Apple TV Plus drama series “Truth be Told” starring Octavia Spencer and “See” starring Jason Momoa, as well as Fox hit comedy “New Girl.”
Variety's Todd Spangler contributed to this post.