By Anne Steele 

Having transformed the music and podcasting businesses, Spotify Technology SA now has its sights on film and TV.

The audiostreaming giant and Chernin Entertainment are teaming up to create television, movies and digital-video programming based on Spotify's hundreds of original series. The nonexclusive partnership offers another way for Spotify to capitalize on the podcast business it has been rapidly expanding over the past two years. Chernin, which has been behind numerous major movies and TV shows, reached a deal earlier this year to produce programming for Netflix Inc.

"Together, we can usher in a new era for podcasts as source material," said Dawn Ostroff, Spotify's chief content and advertising business officer.

Spotify has made itself the most influential player in podcasting in recent years, sparking an arms race for production companies and talent. The Stockholm-based company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on deals for Gimlet Media, Anchor FM, Parcast Studios and Bill Simmons's the Ringer. It's counting on podcasts becoming a moneymaker, in large part through advertising, to help it become less reliant on music -- and profitable.

Spotify now has more than 1.5 million podcasts on its platform, up from 185,000 in 2018. More than 250 of those are Spotify originals -- a number that grows by six to eight new podcasts a week -- and eligible for adaptation pending approval from their creators, who may also participate financially in deals.

"Spotify has all sorts of stories already proven to be addictive," said Peter Chernin, chief executive of Chernin Group, the investment firm that owns Chernin Entertainment. "And a vast amount of data that tells you what stories are really resonating with people."

Mr. Chernin said he admires the creativity in a pure-audio format.

"In my mind it's one of the most creative spaces in the media industry," said the movie and TV producer and former president and COO of News Corp.

Chernin Entertainment's film productions have included "Planet of the Apes," "The Greatest Showman" and "Hidden Figures." It's also made the TV series "New Girl," "See" and "Truth Be Told." Spotify has nearly a dozen podcast-based film and TV projects in the works, including adaptations of "Homecoming" for Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video and "The Two Princes" for AT&T Inc.'s HBO Max. Chernin and Spotify are already collaborating on the TV series adaptation of true-crime podcast "The Clearing."

The partnership also works in the other direction: Spotify can look to Chernin's dozens of entertainment projects in development for potential podcasts, and the companies could decide to develop storylines into podcasts as a frontrunner to movies and TV shows.

"It's a great way to innovate in storytelling for certainly less money than it takes to make pilots," said Mr. Chernin.

Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, has a content partnership with Spotify's Gimlet unit.

Write to Anne Steele at Anne.Steele@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 24, 2020 11:14 ET (15:14 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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