The Ringer, the digital media and podcast company founded by ex-ESPN exec Bill Simmons that Spotify bought in 2020, plans to launch an exclusive audio network as part of a multi-year audio content partnership with WWE. In addition, existing WWE audio programming will become available exclusively on Spotify starting later in 2021.
As part of the pact, The Ringer’s current feed for The Masked Man Show hosted by David Shoemaker and Kaz will be renamed The Ringer Wrestling Show and will continue on that feed, alongside new programming from WWE personalities. In addition, using Spotify Greenroom (its Clubhouse-like app for live audio chats), the companies will launch live sessions after every major WWE pay-per-view event with the final rooms to be converted into podcasts for The Ringer Wrestling Show.
New podcasts from The Ringer and WWE are set to include a series from WWE personality Evan Mack, called MackMania, and a narrative series produced by Bill Simmons.
To kick off the partnership, The Ringer staffers will be on-site in Las Vegas leading into the wrestling entertainment company’s biggest annual event: 2021 SummerSlam, which takes place this Saturday at Allegiant Stadium (home of the Las Vegas Raiders). The event will stream live at starting at 8 p.m. ET exclusively on NBCUniversal’s Peacock in the U.S. and on WWE Network everywhere else.
The Ringer will have a presence at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, where fans can get free Ringer and SummerSlam merch. Audio programming at the event will include new episodes of The Ringer Wrestling Show, Evan Mack’s Ringer debut and Spotify Greenroom live conversations.
“The Ringer is the premier destination for sports fandom, and WWE has used amazing storytelling and iconic characters to establish a global audience of loyal and passionate fans, making this partnership a perfect match,” Simmons said in a statement, adding, “As a lifelong WWE fan, I couldn’t be more excited to work with them to take a fresh perspective on their most iconic moments and superstars, and leverage Spotify’s global scale to share content that we believe everyone will enjoy.”
WWE’s existing original podcasts—which will become exclusive to Spotify—include The New Day: Feel the Power, hosted by Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods, and WWE After the Bell with Corey Graves.
Regarding Simmons and his team at The Ringer, WWE president and chief revenue officer Nick Khan said they “consistently find ways to create premium content that drives conversation and appeals to fans of sports, entertainment and pop culture. We believe this collaboration will deliver a podcast slate that excites existing fans while also introducing WWE content to the millions of Spotify listeners.”
In March 2020, Spotify acquired The Ringer for €170 million (about $200 million) in cash. As of the end of June, Spotify reported 365 million monthly active users including 165 million paying subscribers. The company says it offers 2.9 million podcast titles on the platform.