As if the streaming video business couldn't get any more crowded, streaming music giant Spotify is trying to disrupt its way into on-demand Internet TV content, sources tell Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson. Update: Spotify CEO Daniel Ek denies that this is happening any time soon, telling CNET's Paul Sloan, "right now, we're all focused on music." But Ek does leave the door open to video: "I won't rule it out because we're a company that looks at what we're doing incredibly long term."
In any case, it sounds like a profoundly bad idea when you've got Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon already dominating the space. But Carlson's sources make it sound like the Swedish music service has more of an interest in paying for original content à la House of Cards than licensing old shows from the ever powerful content providers. Which doesn't sound like the worst idea ever, especially given how successful Spotify has been since it came to U.S. shores in 2011. Indeed, Spotify has plenty of experience negotiating with content owners—record labels can be as impossible to negotiate with as TV production companies, as Apple has found in trying to catch up with Spotify's on-demand music. But Hollywood has proven less forthcoming with its digital goods than the struggling music business. And adding one more willing payer on the delivery side might only stoke the bidding war for day-old TV shows and movies even more.
So, perhaps motivated by the (supposed) success Netflix enjoyed with House of Cards, Spotify sounds like it wants to produce some high quality, Internet-only videos on its own—or at least license them exclusively. And who doesn't want more, better things to watch online, by way of a service you're enjoying at a minimal fee already? Of course, it's unclear if Spotify could make something good, since it doesn't do video. So, unlike Netflix, the music service doesn't have a bunch of data proving what people want to watch before it goes and pays to make more of it. If Netflix could find the perfect combination of Kevin Spacey and David Fincher by your rental data, can Spotify mine your playlists to predict the kind of web-original TV show that will keep you coming back for more video and music? That may depend on wrangling new deals. Carlson reports that "Spotify still depends on the labels more than they depend on it." Now Spotify may be depending on convincing you to watch as well as listen in its bid to keep competing with the big guns.
In the meantime, Spotify says "music can't be stopped" in this new ad set to premiere on The Voice tonight — so at least they know "what's fighting for" and still have priorities:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.