Late night TV hosts unite for podcast on Hollywood strikes

Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver to co-host limited series for Spotify

Spotify has brought together late night TV hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver for a new podcast series looking at the impact of the ongoing Hollywood labour strikes, the audio giant has announced. 

The limited series, titled Strike Force Five, will run for at least 12 episodes with the first launching today. The show follows a roundtable format, with each of the five presenters taking turns to host. 

The launch of Strike Force Five comes after the co-hosts' late night shows paused production following the Writers Guild of America strike, which started in May 2023. Since then, the group has been regularly meeting via Zoom to discuss the stoppage and its impacts. 

All proceeds from Strike Force Five will help support staff from the hosts’ respective shows, who have been out of work since the strikes started. The series is hosted on Spotify’s Megaphone platform, with Spotify acting as the exclusive ad sales partner, and is co-sponsored by mobile network Mint Mobile and alcoholic beverage company Diageo. 

Following the WGA strike, current and prospective members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union also joined the picket line in July to strike against AMPTP - the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers - demanding higher pay, better working conditions, and better protection and guardrails against the advancement of AI. 

This is the first time that both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA unions have simultaneously gone on strike in 63 years, and the first time that the strikes have directly affected podcasts. As part of the strikes, WGA writers are barred from working on “fiction podcasts that would be covered by a WGA contract” to avoid podcasts being used as a loophole for struck film and TV companies to continue developing projects.

Additionally, members of SAG-AFTRA are also barred from appearing on podcasts, as well as other media formats, to promote struck work. As a result, a number of TV companion and rewatch podcasts have been put on hold, including PodCo’s Full House Rewind and Earwolf’s Office Ladies

As part of its current podcast strategy, Spotify’s approach to podcasts has been less focused on exclusivity in order to expand its audience and grow its ad sales. A number of series that were formerly exclusive to Spotify are now available to listen to across all major podcast platforms, including hit talent-driven shows like Emma Chamberlain’s Anything Goes and Armchair Expert with Dax Shephard. Video episodes for these shows still remain exclusive to Spotify, however. 

Spotify has also started to launch new shows as non-exclusives, including its upcoming original podcast series with television host and comedian Trevor Noah, which the audio giant previously announced at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity in June. The podcast will feature Noah engaging in deep conversations with a number of influential figures around the world.