Higher Ground, the production company, led by Barack and Michelle Obama, has signed a partnership deal with Spotify under which it would produce podcasts available only on the streaming platform.
The Obamas formed Higher Ground in 2018 in conjunction with Netflix to produce a range of content including docu-series, documentaries and features which would run on the platform. Higher Ground Audio, a new division of the company, will be overseeing the move into podcasts.
Spotify will distribute the podcast to its audiences around the world. The service currently has more than 217 million monthly active users, with more than 100 Premium subscribers.
“We’re excited about Higher Ground Audio because podcasts offer an extraordinary opportunity to foster productive dialogue, make people smile and make people think, and hopefully, bring us all a little closer together,” President Obama said in a statement.
And as the audience for podcasts grows (up 35 percent in the last three years, according to statista.com), so does the attractiveness of the medium for advertisers. While podcast revenue still lags far behind TV advertising, it has been making steady advances.
In the U.S., advertisers spent $479.1 million on podcasts in 2018, according to a report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC cited in the Wall Street Journal. That’s a 53 percent jump from the 2017 figure of $313.9 million, and the report estimates this year’s total at $678.7 million.
Higher Ground has yet to specify topics that its podcasts will cover. Spotify chief content officer Dawn Ostroff says that platform will be working with the Obamas “to identify and share stories that will inspire our global audience.”
The Obamas’ podcast deal follows the May launch of “Why Am I Telling You This?” a podcast produced by the Clinton Foundation, featuring Bill and Chelsea Clinton.