Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama are ending their exclusive podcast deal with Spotify.
In 2019, the Obamas Higher Ground production company inked a three-year agreement for an undisclosed amount. According to Bloomberg and The Los Angeles Times, the couple will not be renewing their contract, which ends in October, and they are now seeking a new home for their podcasts. Sources report the two are in talks with iHeartMedia Inc. and Amazon’s Audible for deals worth tens of millions of dollars. Spotify was also part of the conversation, but ultimately “declined to make an offer.”
In the Bloomberg report, sources said that Higher Ground disagreed with the streaming giant about the terms of the deal, including exclusivity leading to a limited audience and the number of shows featuring the Obamas. They are reportedly seeking wider production and distribution on multiple platforms in their next deal.
Since partnering, Spotify has produced five Higher Ground podcasts. “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” which debuted in July of 2020, was the fourth most popular podcast that year. “Renegades: Born in the USA,” featuring conversations between the former commander-in-chief and Bruce Springsteen, debuted the following February.
Reports that the Obamas were looking for a new platform emerged in early February, with The Independent stating that they were having difficulties getting shows greenlit by Spotify.
The Swedish streaming platform has shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars on exclusive deals with podcasts like “Call Her Daddy,” “The Joe Rogan Experience” and Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Archewell Audio company.
Elsewhere, Higher Ground holds a multi-year deal with Netflix, under which they produce scripted and unscripted documentaries, docuseries and features. Their slate includes the Oscar-nominated documentaries “Crip Camp” and “American Factory” and the Emmy-nominated documentary special “Becoming.”
Spotify and Higher Ground did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.