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Joe Rogan Gets $100 Million Offer From Rumble Video Website

Joe Rogan Gets $100 Million Offer From Rumble Video Website

Platform wants to host ‘The Joe Rogan Experience,’ including podcasts now removed from Spotify

Joe Rogan has apologized after a compilation video emerged showing how he and some of his podcast guests used the N-word.

By Anne Steele , WSJ

Updated Feb. 7, 2022 6:18 pm

Rumble Inc. has offered Joe Rogan $100 million to take his podcast exclusively to its social video website after weeks of controversy at Spotify Technology SA SPOT -3.27% .

The offer, made public in a letter from Rumble Chief Executive Chris Pavlovski posted to Twitter, follows Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s letter to employees on Sunday apologizing for Mr. Rogan’s use of a racial slur in previous podcast episodes and saying he doesn’t believe in “silencing” him. Spotify has said Mr. Rogan signed a multiyear deal with the company in September 2020. It is unclear whether Mr. Rogan would be able to switch platforms any time soon.

The influence Mr. Rogan’s show has and how much responsibility Spotify has for its content are issues that have generated significant attention in recent days.

Joe Rogan apologized for the second time in a week on Saturday after a compilation video emerged showing him using the N-word numerous times in past episodes of his podcast on Spotify. Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Several artists, including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash have said they want to remove their content from Spotify for what they deem is misinformation spread by Mr. Rogan about the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccines.

Singer-songwriter India Arie said she pulled her music from the platform because she opposed the language Mr. Rogan used around race and the amount of money he earns from Spotify. She shared a compilation video of Mr. Rogan using a racial slur in numerous instances on his show, which sparked outcry from people on social media and among some Spotify employees, according to a person inside the company.

“We stand with you, your guests, and your legion of fans in desire for real conversation,” wrote Mr. Pavlovski in the letter to Mr. Rogan. “How about you bring all your shows to Rumble, both old and new, with no censorship, for 100 million bucks over four years?”

Spotify declined to comment. Mr. Rogan didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Ek said in his letter that Mr. Rogan chose to remove some episodes from Spotify after discussions with the company and Mr. Rogan’s own reflections. Tracking site says 113 of Mr. Rogan’s episodes have been taken off Spotify since Friday.

In 2020, Spotify paid $100 million, according to people familiar with the deal, to host “The Joe Rogan Experience” exclusively on its platform. The podcast has been critical to Spotify’s growth and expansion beyond music streaming. Mr. Ek repeated in his letter to staffers that he wants Spotify to be the biggest audio platform in the world.

“The Joe Rogan Experience” is the No. 1 show in 93 markets, Spotify has said. In 2021, Mr. Rogan’s show was the most-listened-to podcast every month in more than 30 markets, including in the U.S., said a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Rogan’s listeners have increased 75% from the time he joined Spotify’s platform in September 2020 to December 2021, the person said.

Mr. Rogan apologized for the second time in a week on Saturday after the compilation video emerged showing how he and some of his guests used the N-word numerous times on his show. In a video on his Instagram account, Mr. Rogan said he offered “my sincere and humble apologies” for “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.”

He said that the clips were taken out of context and that they were based on 12 years of conversations. He added that they look “horrible, even to me.”

Rumble, which started in 2013 and has positioned itself as an alternative to Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube, has attracted the support of conservatives. Last May, the company said it received an investment from a group of venture capitalists including Peter Thiel and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance.

The conservative investors were considering Rumble as some executives and policy makers on the right sought to set up an alternative social-media ecosystem outside mainstream platforms that they see as excessively restricting speech.

Toronto-based Rumble said at the time that it would use the money to beef up its video infrastructure, including its live-streaming capabilities and global presence, and to build out its server capacity to the point that it can begin offering cloud solutions to other businesses.

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