- Spotify this week started a multiyear partnership with Riot Games to be the official and exclusive streaming partner for the game maker's "League of Legends" global events. The collaboration includes an esports hub for the game with official playlists inspired by the gaming community and several upcoming podcasts, Spotify announced.
- Spotify and Riot Games are planning to launch several new "League of Legends" podcasts, starting with "Untold Stories: Top Moments from Worlds." The nine-episode series will lead up to the 10th League of Legends World Championship, giving fans a way to learn about top players and anthems through interviews, game highlights and sound effects.
- Tencent Esports this week announced the League of Legends World Championship will start on Sept. 25 in Shanghai, with the Summoner’s Cup Finals taking place at the city's Pudong Soccer Stadium on Oct. 31. Event organizers haven't determined whether fans will be allowed to attend the finals in person, Esports Observer reported.
Spotify's collaboration with Riot Games on gaming-inspired audio content aims to reach esports fans and deepen their engagement with their favorite teams and players, while also increasing engagement with the streaming platform. The League of Legends World Championship is one of the most popular esports events in the world, last year hitting a record average minute audience (AMA) of 21.8 million and peak viewership of 44 million during the five-week competition, per Riot Games. By offering music, playlists and exclusive podcasts for the gaming community, Spotify and Riot Games can immerse listeners in an on-demand audio experience that's easily portable on smartphones, or available on smart speakers. For mobile marketers, the expanded audio programming can help them to reach esports fans who listen to Spotify's ad-supported service and podcasts.
The audio experiences include a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the "Worlds Anthem" with a takeover campaign on Spotify. The anthem typically is released with a custom music video and performed during the opening ceremony of the World Championship Finals to get people excited for the match. Riot Games has worked with artists such as Imagine Dragons, The Glitch Mob and Against the Current on the anthem. Every month, 4.8 million people listen to the official "League of Legends" playlist on Spotify, an indication of demand for gamer-related music.
The collaboration between Spotify and Riot Games combines their efforts to reach the growing audience for esports and audio streaming, including podcasts. The global audience for esports is forecast to grow 31% to 646 million in three years from 495 million this year, per data cited by Statista. An estimated 16% percent of internet users will watch esports at least once a month by 2023. Meanwhile, Spotify's global audience grew 29% to 299 million people in Q2 from a year earlier, including 170 million people who listen to its ad-supported service. The company doesn't disclose its podcast listenership, but there are signs that more people are listening to podcasts. In the U.S., the percentage of people who listen to podcasts at least once a month this year grew to 37%, or 104 million people, from 32% in 2019, per a study by Edison Research and Triton.
Spotify's expanded programming can help to reach a broader group of listeners, and comes as the company invests heavily in exclusive podcasts to compete with rival music streaming services like Apple Music and YouTube Music. Those efforts include last month's launch of the "The Michelle Obama Podcast," a weekly talk show hosted by the former First Lady. Spotify also signed a multiyear partnership with Warner Bros. and DC to carry scripted podcast series based on the comics imprint's superheroes, and an exclusive deal to stream popular podcast "The Joe Rogan Experience." Spotify also bought Bill Simmons' The Ringer network, the latest in a string of acquistions that included Gimlet Media, the home of popular titles like "Homecoming" and "Reply All," for a reported $230 million. Sportify also bought podcast production platform Anchor and narrative-focused podcast studio Parcast for $56 million.
While Spotify earns most of its revenue from subscriptions to its ad-free service, it is working to monetize its podcast content through ad sales. The company last month signed a $20 million deal with Omnicom Media Group to sell its podcast ad inventory. Spotify's ad sales effort comes as U.S. podcast advertising revenue is expected to rise 15% to about $1 billion this year, per the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and consulting firm PwC.