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Spotify and Chernin Entertainment enter first-look deal to turn podcasts into TV shows and movies

More Spotify podcasts could soon become TV shows or movies thanks to a new, multi-year partnership announced today between the streaming music provider and film and television production company, Chernin Entertainment. The agreement will allow Chernin to identify and adapt film and TV shows from Spotify’s library of over 250 original podcast series, totaling thousands of hours of content.

The two companies, by way of Spotify-owned Gimlet Media, were already working toge ther

in collaboration with Pineapple Street Media on the forthcoming adaptation of the podcast series, The Clearing, about serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards. Those efforts will continue, while the deal opens up Spotify’s larger podcast library of shows from around the world to Chernin.

Image Credits: Spotify screenshot via TechCrunch

The production company is known today for movies like Ford v Ferrari, The Planet of the Apes Trilogy, The Greatest Showman, and Hidden Figures as well as TV shows like New Girl and Apple TV+’s See and Truth Be Told. This spring, it signed a first-look deal for feature films with Netflix, after losing a previous first-look deal with 20th Century Fox that ended when Disney acquired Fox’s feature film operations.

Those and other industry changes have put Chernin on the path to seek out new sources for IP that can be translated into movies, TV, and other sorts of digital video.

Meanwhile, the growth in podcasting has made audio programming a viable new source for original content that can be translated into other media, like film and TV. This podcasting market is also one Spotify has heavily invested in, with its acquisitions of podcast companies, like Gimlet and The Ringer, as well as podcasting tools that allow more people to become creators, like Anchor.

“Audio is by far the fastest-growing medium in the entertainment business, and with over 250 originals and thousands of hours of content, Spotify has one of the largest libraries of unattached IP that exists in the world today and that library is being added to daily,” said Chernin Entertainment Chairman and CEO Peter Chernin, in a statement. “This treasure trove of content plus the acceleration of new voices and stories provides an enormous opportunity to transform these addictive stories and IP into content for the screen,” he said.

Spotify tells TechCrunch the deal doesn’t include any commitment to adapt a certain number of podcasts into video projects, but it believes the volume will be high. Specific deal terms were also not being disclosed, including any possible revenue-sharing details. However, the deal doesn’t prevent Spotify from working with other production companies on programs Chernin decides to pass on. It also doesn’t specify any marketing or promotional commitments. Those will be handled on a project-by-project basis, Spotify says.

Spotify’s library of 250 original shows, as well as those it continues to release in the weeks and months ahead, will remain at the center of this agreement, but there may be scenarios where the companies also collaborate on adaptations beyond that group, Spotify tells us.

The aim is to discover what sorts of programs translate well into movies and TV. On this front, Spotify says it believes its diversity of content, ability to analyze data, and creator access will be to its advantage.

The Spotify original podcast library today includes popular shows across a variety of genres, which is a key asset in this deal. In addition, Spotify will be able to tap into data on how well shows are performing thanks to its prior development of specialized tools for analytics.

For example, Spotify currently allows podcasters to track their own show’s performance and other anonymized audience data through the Spotify for Podcasters service. Now, the company will be able to use this same data set to help identify possible adaptations that would do well. And because Spotify also owns several of the podcast production companies, it can also help work to identify creators with vision who may be better-suited to help with larger adaptations of this nature.

This is not the first time Spotify’s podcast content has been turned into movies or TV. The company today has nearly a dozen projects in various stages of completion, including the adaptation of Homecoming for Amazon Prime Video, plus upcoming projects like The Two Princes for HBO Max and The Horror of Dolores Roach for Prime Video.

Spotify and Chernin aren’t announcing any of the first projects that will result from this deal today but, given standard development and production timelines, 2021 would be the very earliest that such content would make its debut.

“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,” said Spotify Chief Content and Advertising Business Officer Dawn Ostroff, in an announcement. “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. Together, we can usher in a new era for podcasts as source material,” she said.

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