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Spotify has promoted The Ringer’s Bill Simmons to a new role as head of global sports strategy, reported Deadline. Simmons has worked under the streaming service’s umbrella since it bought his sports and culture podcast network The Ringer back in 2020. In his new role, we’ll likely see Simmons expand upon the current lineup of NBA, MLB and NFL-focused podcasts and dive into international territory. We’ve already gotten a hint of that with shows like The Rugby Pod with Andy Goode, Big Jim Hamilton and host Andy Rowe.
Spotify’s non-US audience is getting larger — the service is currently available in 178 countries. Its number of subscribers actually grew by 2 million in the first quarter of 2022 (despite losing all of its Russian subscribers), which it pinned on "outperformance in Latin America and Europe". Last year, the streaming service expanded to 86 new countries, with the goal of eventually streaming to over 1 billion users. Earlier this year, Spotify announced it was going to become the main partner of FC Barcelona, as well as its official audio streaming partner. Given the fact that no global sports coverage would be complete without soccer, we’re likely to see even more from this space. There’s no doubt an appetite amongst Spotify’s global audience for shows focused on the Premier League, FIFA and the World Cup, as well as other international sports topics.
The promotion of Simmons is a part of a broader shake-up in Spotify’s exec structure. Parcast founder Max Cutler will become Spotify’s head of creator content and partnerships, overseeing originals and heading an entirely new division of “creator-focused” content. Julie McNamara will oversee studio partnerships and Hollywood-produced works.
In Spotify’s latest earnings call, it announced it reached a record 422 million global monthly active users. But despite its strong growth, the initial concerns that Spotify may have bitten off more than it can chew with its $1 billion investment in podcasts hasn’t faded. While podcast listening hours skyrocketed during the pandemic, there’s no guarantee that Spotify will be able to hold on to that momentum in the future.