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Tracking: April 27, 2021

Bloomberg reports that AT&T is exploring a sale of Rooster Teeth, the Otter Media subsidiary digital entertainment company that specializes in gaming, fandom, and pop culture areas with a sizable podcast operation, which includes first-party production and third-party partnerships.

Meanwhile, The Daily Beast reports that Bari Weiss, the controversial former New York Times opinion writer, is “close to inking a deal to launch a major podcast project” and, additionally, has apparently brought on fellow controversial former Times staffer Andy Mills to work on the production.

From The Verge: “Audio social platform Clubhouse is partnering with the National Football League for some exclusive programming during the upcoming NFL draft, the company announced Sunday. This is the first sports partnership for Clubhouse.”

This relationship is going to be complicated, isn’t it? Spotify’s mini-player integration on Facebook — the so-called “Project Boombox” teased last Monday — is rolling out this week in 27 markets, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Japan, with more regions expected in the coming months. Spotify’s official blog post on the matter touts the player’s enablement of social discovery and is further interesting for its emphasis on the fact that the player covers both music and podcasts.

Which makes Ashley Carman’s scoop over at The Verge yesterday a little awkward. She confirms that alongside the Spotify player integration, Facebook is apparently building out its own in-app podcast player as part of its intent to bring podcast distribution onto the platform in the coming months, pegged to Facebook Pages.

When Facebook officially announced its various audio intentions last week, its corresponding blog post was somewhat vague when, while discussing upcoming podcast distribution on the platform, it said “within the next few months, you’ll be able to listen to podcasts directly on the Facebook app — both while using the app or when the app is backgrounded.” Whether this referred to the Spotify mini-player integration or that Facebook was building its own in-app player was unclear at the time, and I wrote as much in last week’s issue.

Spotify declined to comment on this specific development.

In any case, my general feel for this subject remains the same: Facebook is best kept at arm’s length.