Spotify reportedly cancels hit podcasts Heavyweight and Stolen

Producers will be free to shop the shows once the seasons are finished

Audio giant Spotify has reportedly cancelled two of its hit podcasts - Heavyweight and Stolen - amidst organisational restructures and layoffs that were announced yesterday, according to Bloomberg

The news is not directly related to the layoffs that were announced yesterday, and the company has decided not renew the shows once their contracts end. The shows will continue to run until they complete their current seasons, after which the producers will be free to take them to other networks.

“We are extremely proud of the teams who have supported these talented storytellers across each of the incredible episodes of Heavyweight and Stolen,” a Spotify spokesperson told PodPod. “We are excited to share the upcoming episodes and season that will be available on Spotify and other podcast platforms and we will work with the show creators to ensure a smooth transition for wherever these series go next.”

Heavyweight is an award-winning Spotify Studios production - from the team formerly known as Gimlet Media - and has been running for over seven years with host and executive producer, author and humourist Jonathan Goldstein. The series is an industry favourite, and has been repeatedly recommended as part of PodPod’s weekly Earworms feature.

At the start of October this year, ahead of the show launching its eighth season, Spotify announced that the series would no longer be exclusive and would instead be available across all major podcast platforms in an effort to increase its reach and ad sales. 

Stolen, a true crime podcast hosted by investigative reporter Connie Walker, is also originally a Gimlet production. Although the show has been running for a shorter amount of time than Heavyweight with only two seasons, it’s received critical acclaim and has been awarded both a Pulitzer Prize and Peabody Award in the same year. 

The news of the cancellations comes a day after Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek announced that the company would be laying off 17% of its staff, which amounted to an estimated number of 1,570 employees. Despite reporting that Spotify was back to being a profitable business in Q3 2023, Ek said that the lay-offs were made to ensure that the company was “right-sized” to meet future challenges and objectives. 

Gimlet Media and Parcast, two podcast networks that were acquired by Spotify in 2019, were merged into the preexisting Spotify Studios organisation in June this year as part of the platform’s new podcast strategy and second round of lay-offs for the year, which affected 2% of its workforce. At the time, the Gimlet and Parcast unions - both of which are part of WGA East - released a joint statement stating that a number of their members were affected by the layoffs and that they were “frustrated” at Spotify’s alleged mismanagement. Gimlet’s union has also tweeted that its unit was once again affected by Spotify’s latest round of layoffs. 

“We are devastated that we are losing talented and wonderful colleagues who make shows that audiences love,” Gimlet Union said in a tweet.