J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Launches Podcast Division, Inks Spotify First-Look Deal

Bad Robot, J.J. Abrams’ production company, is diving into podcasts in an exclusive, multiyear first-look deal with audio-streaming giant Spotify.

Bad Robot Audio will be led by Christina Choi (pictured above), formerly with Audible and Spotify, who joins as head of podcasts at Bad Robot. The company’s new podcast division plans to produce and develop original scripted and non-scripted audio content, launching in collaboration with Spotify.

“Podcasts have obviously become a go-to destination for entertainment, education and discovery,” Abrams, Bad Robot co-CEO, said in a statement. “Given Bad Robot’s work in TV, film, games and music, podcasts was an obvious topic of conversation within the company for a long time. We are thrilled to welcome Christina Choi to lead the way, and to collaborate with Dawn [Ostroff] and the incredible Spotify team to bring some incredible stories to life.”

For now, Bad Robot isn’t detailing any podcast projects it may have in the queue. Spotify also has first-look podcast deals with Peter Chernin’s Chernin Entertainment and Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings (now part of South Korea’s HYBE). Over the last three years, Spotify has punched its way into the podcast arena with acquisitions of Gimlet, Anchor, Parcast and The Ringer and multiple exclusive deals for podcast shows including “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

“We’re incredibly honored to welcome visionary J.J. Abrams and his renowned Bad Robot productions into the Spotify family,” Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content and advertising business officer, said in a statement. “Bad Robot productions have produced some of the world’s most riveting and award-winning content and we cannot wait to see how their imaginative stories transcend into the audio space.”

Most recently, Choi was at Amazon’s Audible, where she served as director of content partnerships under the content acquisition and development division and managed development partnerships with key production partners and talent. Prior to Audible, Choi spent seven years at Spotify as a creative development executive and showrunner and was a key contributor to Spotify’s podcast strategy and growth. As an advocate for diversity, inclusion and belonging Choi founded and led Spotify’s Asian employee resource group and helped create Spotify Sound Up, a global podcast incubator program for underrepresented voices. Before Spotify, Choi was an administrator at New York City’s Juilliard School, where she worked with young classical musicians.

“I’m thrilled to join Bad Robot as they expand into the world of podcasting,” Choi commented. “The medium allows for the imagination of creators to thrive. I’m honored to have the opportunity to build out this new venture with Katie, J.J., Brian, and the Bad Robot team. I’m also looking forward to reuniting with Spotify, which was where I started my career in podcasting.”

Bad Robot’s business spans film, TV, gaming, music and now podcasting. In film, the company has a slate of projects in development under its WarnerMedia deal, including priority projects with Warner Bros., DC, HBO Max and Warner Animation Group including a live-action remake of the anime film “Your Name” and Dr. Seuss’s iconic children’s book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” set up at Warner Bros. and to be directed by Jon M. Chu.

In addition, Bad Robot has the thriller “Lou,” starring Allison Janney, Jurnee Smollett and Logan Marshall-Green, set up at Netflix, as well as multiple projects at Paramount Pictures. Recent TV projects for Bad Robot include “Lovecraft Country” for HBO, “Lisey’s Story” for Apple TV Plus, and “UFO,” a four-part docu-series for Showtime. The company is currently in production on Season 4 of “Westworld” for HBO.

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