In a surprising turn of events, Spotify has decided to part ways with one of its industry-favorite podcasts, Heavyweight, leaving fans and podcast enthusiasts in shock. The announcement comes amidst a broader shake-up at Spotify, marked by a 17 percent reduction in staff.
Heavyweight, a flagship show from Gimlet, had garnered a loyal following within the podcasting community. The decision to cancel the show also means that the dedicated team behind Heavyweight will face layoffs once the current season concludes. A source familiar with the situation revealed this to The Verge, painting a somber picture for the talented storytellers who brought Heavyweight to life.
Spotify spokesperson Rosa Oh expressed the company’s pride in the Heavyweight team, acknowledging their contribution to the show’s remarkable episodes. Despite the cancellation, Oh assured fans that the remaining episodes of the current season would still be available on Spotify and other podcast platforms. Additionally, efforts are underway to ensure a smooth transition for the show’s creator as they explore new opportunities for Heavyweight.
The move comes as part of Spotify’s evolving podcasting strategy, a shift from the initial vision set in 2019 when the streaming giant acquired Gimlet for a hefty $230 million. Back then, Gimlet was touted as the hottest independent podcast operation in the industry. However, the anticipated success did not materialize as Spotify had hoped.
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The downfall began when Reply All, one of Gimlet’s flagship shows, severed ties with the studio. Co-host PJ Vogt and producer Sruthi Pinnamaneni faced accusations of fostering a discriminatory environment, leading to their exit. Subsequently, Gimlet underwent significant downsizing, both in terms of programming and staff, ultimately being folded into Spotify Originals.
The shift in strategy was evident as Spotify veered away from prestigious narrative podcasts, choosing instead to focus on personality-driven chat shows like the Joe Rogan Experience and Call Her Daddy. This pivot marked a departure from the original plan, leaving Gimlet’s signature style and approach on the backburner.
Unfortunately, Heavyweight is not the only casualty in this podcasting saga. Stolen, another critically acclaimed show from Gimlet, also faced the chopping block, despite earning a Pulitzer Prize. Bloomberg reported that Stolen, too, would wrap up its current season before bidding farewell. Both Heavyweight and Stolen might have the chance to find new homes post-cancellation, as discussions are underway about potentially shopping these shows to other platforms.
As fans brace themselves for the end of Heavyweight, the podcasting landscape continues to evolve, reflecting the dynamic nature of the industry. The echoes of this decision resonate not only within the walls of Spotify but reverberate throughout the broader podcasting community, leaving many to wonder what lies ahead for the creators and their stories. Only time will tell how this chapter in podcasting history will unfold, and whether the legacy of Heavyweight will find a new home in the ever-expanding world of digital storytelling.