Would acquiring The Ringer move Spotify to the top of the Podcast Pyramid?
The Ringer and Spotify. On Friday evening, at the top of a long weekend — a time slot known in some cultures as “News Dump O’Clock” — The Wall Street Journal dropped a mighty curious story with considerable implications for Podcastland: Spotify, the story reported, appears to be in “early talks” to acquire The Ringer, the distinctly podcast-heavy digital media company founded by former ESPN personality Bill Simmons.
The key word here being “early,” with the Journal noting that sources close to the matter cautioned that these discussions may not ultimately result in a deal. Also worth flagging: a mention that Spotify is still in the hunt for more assets to pick up, and that The Ringer is one of many possibilities. Spotify, for their part, declined to comment “on rumors and speculation” when contacted by CNN’s Kerry Flynn.
I didn’t drop an extra newsletter when the news came out — come on, it was Friday evening! let me live! — but I did write a short thing on the development for Vulture because apparently I don’t actually have a life.
It’s a curious story, given the timing of the drop and the supposedly early nature of the talks. This is the kind of news dump that’s fertile for speculation: What’s the likelihood of this happening? Why was this report dropped on a Friday evening before a long weekend? Is it a trial balloon to see how folks would react? Was it a leak for leverage? What’s going to happen to the non-audio components of The Ringer? If the purchase does happen, will it definitely mean the end of The Ringer’s written-word operation — a segment that’s most fraught on the internet these days and one that the Swedish music streaming company has virtually no background in? Will we see The Bill Simmons Podcast go exclusive? Yada yada yaaadda.