Spotify Confirms Video Shift as Pacts With Major Media Partners Lapse

The Spotify offices in New York City
Mario Tama/Getty Images

 People gather in the Spotify offices in New York City on June 27, 2013.

Welcome to the fickle world of streaming video, Spotify. Roughly nine months after launching an ambitious video platform for mobile users, the streaming music leader appears to be tinkering with its roster of major media content partners. As first reported by Swedish outlet Breakit, and confirmed to Billboard, Spotify recently allowed several initial partnerships to lapse while strongly affirming a focus on original content.

Spotify unveiled an impressive list of U.S. partners for its long-trumpeted video features in late January. Big names included Viacom, Vice Media, NBC, BBC, Warner Bros. and others. The company paired the video rollout with an ever-expansive collection of podcasts, a segment that actually seems to be growing as the year progresses.

But a quick glance at the "Videos" section less than a year later points to a changing focus, thanks to expired agreements with those major partners. Gone are videos from a-list entities like Disney’s ESPN and Jimmy Kimmel Live, as well as NBCUniversal’s Tonight Show and Late Night. Cable broadcasters including Turner Broadcasting, with its trove of Adult Swim clips, and Viacom -- Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, etc. -- are also nowhere to be seen in the section.

A source familiar with the situation said that the entry and exit of various partners should be seen as a normal part of the testing process.

Some familiar partners do remain, including a wealth of videos from TED Talks, along with Artists Den, Genius and Country Music Association. 

Spotify has invested heavily in its video initiative, though it won’t divulge a dollar amount on what it pays to license the videos. It also does not release metrics for video traffic.

Since launching video and podcasts for mobile users -- sorry, desktoppers -- Spotify has spent most of its bandwidth on producing original content. In-house projects include performance series Flash Frame, celeb-driven Trading Playlists, social issue-driven Deconstructing and the election season-geared Clarify. It recently premiered a series called Landmark that delves into "monumental moments in music," with Metallica getting the nod for the first episodes.

"We're one hundred percent committed to video and podcast content and exploring new and fresh ideas for our audience, and we have lots of great original content available now or coming soon, such as our Landmark Metallica documentary," the company said in a statement provided to Billboard. "We work with many different non-music content partners to develop and deliver content, and that roster of partners naturally changes from time to time."

Additional reporting by Andrew Flanagan.