Like many podcast listeners, I received an email this week to tell me that Google Podcasts was about to breathe its last breath.

Whilst the news was not a complete surprise (the app has been on life support for some time) and disruption to podcast listening will be minimal (Google never really managed to claim much market share). It does pose the questions as to why Google failed to dominate the podcast market with under 1% of listening via their app when they seemed so well set up to succeed and what happens next in terms of Google’s play in the audio space. 

Firstly, we need to decide whether the closure of Google Podcasts is a failure or if it’s a tactical repositioning. Whilst Google Podcasts is closing its doors the tech giant isn’t abandoning podcasting altogether. Instead, it is focusing its attention on YouTube as a podcasting platform which, depending on your definition of “podcasting”, is where many already find their podcast content.

“Over the coming months, podcasts in YouTube Music will be made available globally and we will start rolling out tools that will enable you to transfer your podcast show subscriptions from Google Podcasts.” – Google.

Why should we believe, however, that Google is any better equipped to make podcasting work on YouTube when they have failed to make it work as a Google product?

With 90%+ of global search traffic, you would have thought Google had all the tools it needed to drive traffic to its podcasting platform. Comparing that market dominance to the 1% of podcast listening via Google tells a different story and highlights their failure in this area.

In truth, the user journey was never there.

Google never introduced a Podcast tab within their search engine that would allow people to find audio-related search results easily and separately. They never introduced embed audio in search results meaning listeners always needed multiple clicks even when clearly searching for podcast or audio content.

On the face of it, YouTube is a far better home for podcasts. Largely because it’s already a source for this content for many. 2022 research from Luminate found that YouTube was already the most used podcast platform on the market and whilst podcast purists and producers (amongst which I count myself) may gnash their teeth and bemoan what is and isn’t a podcast, as Matt Deegan, on a recent episode of Voiceworks: Sound Business pointed out, what “we” think doesn’t really matter. 

“We have to be focused on what consumers want and sometimes that differs from what producers want. If you are 15-24 you are so super YouTube native that it’s a big part of the way you consume Audio. The challenge for podcasters is that the audio environment and the video environment are very different. Podcasters may need to play content as a YouTuber rather than a podcaster.” – Matt Deegan

What this move does do is further blur the lines between video and audio podcasting. The latter, to date, performs very poorly on the platform and we will only learn how successful audio-only podcasting can be on YouTube once we see the full extent of the rollout. One thing that will put many audio-minded folks at ease though is the platform’s ability to ingest RSS.

There were some concerns that YouTube had no intention to support RSS, the traditional form of podcast distribution, instead opting for their own hosting mechanism and a “walled garden” approach to podcasting. It was announced at this year’s Podcast Movement (as reported in Podnews Weekly Review) that that would not be the case and both public and private feeds would be supported.

That doesn’t mean that video won’t still play a key part in the podcast experience via YouTube however with plans very much focused on both experiences:

“We’ve seen creators and artists embrace Podcasts on YouTube, and its incredible potential to boost audience growth across audio and video formats. Looking forward to 2024, we’ll be increasing our investment in the podcast experience on YouTube Music — making it a better overall destination for fans and podcasters alike with YouTube-only capabilities across community, discovery, and audio/visual switching.”  – YouTube

Google has all the tools to make podcasting work on its platform but its inability to make it work within its Google eco-system and harness the power of that search engine does raise questions as to whether they have the required understanding and knowledge of the podcasting space to make it work on the (equally well positioned) YouTube platform.

“Wrestling with the Champ” to make live debut at Leicester Comedy Festival.

A Sport Social Podcast Network favourite is heading out on the road!

Comedy wrestling podcast “Wrestling with the Champ” is stepping out from behind the mic and into the real-life ring at this years Leicester Comedy Festival.

Drawing heavy influences from the Wrestling worlds most colourful characters, ‘Wrestling with the Champ’ is a no-holds-barred account of the fictional “star” of the Pub Wrestling Federation; The Ginger Niga (aka The Champ).

The show is making its live debut at the festival and its Creator (and co-star) Damien St.John says he is excited to see his creation bought to life:

“What began as a silly little creative project to pass the time during lockdown has now become this crazy live show that I couldn’t be more proud of.”

Wrestling with The Champ LIVE will be appearing at the Leicester Comedy Festival 2022 on Saturday, February 12th (8pm) and Sunday, February 13th (7pm) at The Globe pub, 43 Silver Street, Leicester LE1 5EU. Tickets are available from the Leicester Comedy Festival website.

You can listen to Wrestling with the Champ on the Sport Social Podcast Network or wherever you find your podcasts!

Listen to “Wrestling with The Champ” on Spreaker.

Sport Social Podcasts could be topping the League!

The Sport Social Podcast Network has two shows nominated for a gong at the first-ever Sport Podcast Awards!

Launched by the Sports Industry Group this year, the Sports Podcast Awards is a brand-new annual celebration of the very best content from the global sports audio community.

Our daily Premier League show, Football Social Daily, has been nominated in the “Best News and Current Affairs” category that recognises podcasts that deliver regular news to their dedicated audience.

Football Stories, an interview-based podcast that looks to tell some of the lesser-heard stories in football has also been nominated for “Best Soccer Show” where it will go head to head with publications from Sky Sports, Talk Sport and The Athletic.

Host for Football Social Daily, Niall McCaughan said of the nomination:

“We’re really proud to be nominated for this award. We absolutely love doing the show and everyone who has contributed has done a brilliant job in keeping on top of all the latest goings-on in the Premier League. Hearing from former players, current journalists and your run of the mill football fans on the podcast has allowed us to capture a really good cross-section of the game in audio form and I think that has resonated with our audience.”

The shortlist for each category was decided by a panel of industry judges with the final decision on who wins now going to a public vote:

To vote for Football Stories as “Best Soccer Podcast”: please visit: https://www.sportspodcastawards.com/categories/24

To vote for Football Social Daily as “Best News and Current Affairs Podcast” please visit: https://www.sportspodcastawards.com/categories/10

Peter Crouch Joins The FootballCo Business Podcast

Former England star and podcasting royalty Peter Crouch is the latest name to offer his insight and experience to the FootballCo Business Podcast.

He’s been a star on the pitch, a familiar voice as a pundit and a smash hit as a podcaster, but now Peter Crouch is trying his hand in the director’s lounge as he tries to turn around the fortunes of National League Club Side Dulwich Hamlet in a new documentary series ‘Peter Crouch: Save Our Beautiful Game’.

Giving a glimpse of what life is like for ex-players once they hang up their boots Crouchy talked to the Voiceworks: Sport-produced podcast about the plans he made for his career post-football, the difference between being on the pitch and how his frustrations with the use of social media from some professional players inspired the tagline to his hit show “That Peter Crouch Podcast”.

The tagline of my podcast is back stronger because that all derives from the fact that we see the same things on a Saturday. When the players haven’t played well or something, a tweet will come out and it was always ‘the fans were terrific’, ‘sorry, we couldn’t perform today, ‘back stronger next week’.

They’re the same three sorts of phrases that get churned out. And I think sometimes it pulls the wool over the fans’ eyes because I remember being a player and I’d see that exact tweet, and I think this player hasn’t tried for the last three months.

You know, this player won’t be working hard in training and he won’t be doing extra work. You know, he’s the first to get off.

Peter Crouch

And then you’ll see him on Instagram, running up his stairs and having a personal trainer in his gym at home. I just think that kind of thing is, pulling the wool over the fans’ eyes.”

You can hear more from Peter on the latest FootballCo Business Podcast.

The FootballCo Business Podcast is a show focused on the most innovative people working in the world of football media, brands and marketing. Each episode features some of the most creative minds in the sport, getting their views on the business behind the beautiful game – from partnerships and branding to esports and new platforms.

Listen to “Peter Crouch on social media in football and saving Dulwich Hamlet” on Spreaker.

FootballCo launch new football business podcast

Global soccer brand FootballCo have launched a brand new football businss podcast on the Sport Social Podcast Network.

The FootballCo business podcast will delve into the minds of some of the most creative and innovative individuals in the beautiful game and is set to provide unbeatable insight into every aspect of football business, from deals in the boardroom to making a splash on social media.

The aim for the Footballco Business Podcast has always been to create a premium product and to do that we knew we needed to work with a provider that both deliver on the final product but also provide guidance in getting everything in place. We already had experience of working with Voiceworks for Goal’s ‘All of Us: The Women’s Soccer Show’ podcast so knew they could do what was needed and even before the first show went out we were more than pleased with how they helped get the show from concept to reality.

Paul Rayment – Footballco Marketing Manager

Episode one launched with host Alex Manby chatting to former Umbro and Puma kit designer Rob Warner about his experiences working on some of the most recognisable football kits of all time including the infamous Cameroon sleeveless kit.

You can listen to the FootballCo Business Podcast now via the Sport Social Podcast network.

Listen to “The Footballco Business Podcast” on Spreaker.

MLS UK grabs a gong at the Football Content Awards

Sport Social Podcast Network show “MLS UK” grabbed bronze for ‘Best International Podcast’ at last nights Football Content Awards.

The show, created by UK based MLS Fans Henry Hewitt and Elliot Holman, follows the ins and out of “soccer” stateside from a uniquely British viewpoint. The show also tasted success at the event in 2020.

Each year the Football Content Awards celebrates the very best from content creators across the sport and Hewitt says it was fantastic to be honoured (again):

“After winning silver last year we’re really pleased to be on the podium again for our category, I know it’s become a bit of a cliche but the last 12 months has been really challenging for all content creators so it’s great to have had our work recognised in this way!”

You can listen to The (award-winning) MLS UK show on the Sport Social Podcast network now.

Listen to “MLS UK Show” on Spreaker.

Goal’s “All Of Us” Season 2 kicks off with Carli Lloyd

Major football publisher Goal has kicked off season 2 of their popular US Women’s Soccer show “All of Us” with a footballing superstar.

Launching ahead of the 2021 summer Olympics, “All Of Us: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Show” provided unrivalled insight and analysis of the US Women’s National Team’s (disappointing) medal campaign.

Goal womens’ soccer correspondents Seth Vertelney and Ameé Ruszkai return for season two with the promise of speaking to the best guests and tackling the biggest issue in the women’s game.

Launching last week, Episode one certainly lived up to that promise as the pair were joined by US Womens’ soccer royalty Carli Lloyd who spoke about her long career as she prepares to call time on her career after over 300 appearances for USWNT.

When asked why she was hanging up her boots now rather than emulating evergreen NFL quarterback Tom Brady Lloyd said:

“Well, Tom Brady doesn’t have to have kids, that’s the one thing for starters! My husband and I are eventually going to start a family so the kind of the clock of ticking on that.”

Carli lloyd

She went on to add that she would rather it was her making the call on when she ended her playing career.

“I don’t think every athlete gets the opportunity to dictate when they go out, to dictate if they’re on top of not. I’ve always wanted my career to be dictated by me making decisions”.

Her comments on the show were picked up by a variety of national publications stateside including Fox News.

You can hear more from “All Of Us: The US Women’s Soccer Show” weekly on the Sport Social Podcast network.

Listen to “All of US: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Show” on Spreaker.

Football Social Daily launches “The Dugout”

Daily Premier League podcast Football Social Daily has launched a brand new show for the 2021/22 season.

“The Dugout” has been added to the raft of daily shows offering football fans around the world an expert-led preview into all the best of the weekend’s Premier League action.

Regular host Niall McCaughan is joined each show by a rotating cast of former Premier League heroes to offer their insight and knowledge on playing the game at the very highest level.

Manchester City hero Paul Dickov, West Ham record signing Matt Jarvis and Southampton Legend Francis Benali are all amongst the former professionals involved in the new show which McCaughan says has been a pleasure to work on.

“We all have an opinion on the game at the top level, but it’s great to hear first hand the thoughts of those who have played it. A lot of the guys are still close to their former clubs and often have some great stories to share about life as a top flight player.”

Niall Mccaughan

You can listen to “The Dugout” every week on the Football Social Daily podcast feed. A new show is published every Friday night in the build-up to the weekend of Premier League matches.

Listen to “Football Social Daily” on Spreaker.

Former Scotland boss Craig Brown joins The Free-Kick Podcast.

Former Scotland boss Craig Brown has been adding to the excitement ahead of Scotland’s crunch match with England at the European Championships – but playing down his former team’s chances of victory.

Speaking on Scottish football show; The Free-Kick Podcastthe former Tartan Army manager explained that there was no doubt that the Scots were second-favourites going into the big game this Friday at Wembley.

England have every advantage, not only the fact they’re at home, but they have an extra day’s rest, which can make all the difference and that’s not something that’s been mentioned too often.

Confidence in the Scottish camp going into this game won’t be helped by their opening game against the Czech Republic, which resulted in a 2-0 defeat, but Brown felt that Steve Clark’s team did enough for at least a point.

The ex-Rangers player previously managed Scotland at both Euro 96 and at the World Cup in France in 1998 and knows only too well the effect a poor result can have on the group.

I’ve got every sympathy for Steve after Monday. I’ve been through this experience and while it was a disappointing result, the performance didn’t reflect the result and I felt we should have got a draw.

The first game loss won’t do anything to dampen Scottish expectations, however with Brown convinced that the team will be in no doubt exactly how important this game is to the country, to the team and for the manager.

A game against England is a game that, for Scotland, can’t get any bigger. We played Brazil, Germany, France and had some hard games away from home, but the most demanding is England at Wembley. This is probably the biggest game Steve Clarke will ever be involved in and it’ll mean a lot to the whole nation.

The guest slot from Craig Brown was a great booking from the Free-Kick team who were looking to capitalise on the hype around the European Championships and only reinforces their reputation for excellent insight and analysis around everything to do with Scottish football.

Listen to the full interview with Craig Brown on the Sport Social Podcast Network.

Listen to “Free Kick: The Scottish Football Podcast”.

How to grow your Sport Podcast audience.

Making a podcast is hard work… finding an audience for that podcast can be even harder!

The world of podcasting is a competitive space and no more so than in sport. A quick search of a simple term like “Football” in your favourite podcasting app will turn up a dizzying number of results and so finding the right ears in that crowded market can be tough.

There is no magic bullet when it comes to finding a podcast audience (unless you have very deep pockets) but there are some tips and tricks you can deploy to help along the way.

We asked some of the team behind Sports Social and the Sport Social Podcast Network for their advice on how to build and grow a podcast audience.

It takes time and commitment to create a great sports podcast but that effort is of no use if no one can hear you. If you put as much time and commitment into finding listeners and building your audience then you are giving yourself the best chance of success.

Neil Sloan – Content Director at Voiceworks.ai

Neil has worked in radio and audio for 20 years in a career spanning the BBC, commercial radio and independent production. 

Find your niche… and be consistent. 

Making sure your content is the best it can be is always going to be at the centre of any podcast’s success. Interesting, well thought out and engaging audio is a must-have in any genre of podcasting. Sadly though, having a great show doesn’t always mean you will have a successful show. However, from a content point of view, there are two key things to consider both before and after you launch your new sports show.

Firstly, does the world really need another podcast with 4 men talking about Manchester United with plenty of “banter” thrown in for good measure? Probably not. Even if you can deliver that content better than anyone else, unless you’ve got a headline-grabbing name (have you got Zlatan’s number?) involved you are unlikely to get much cut through. Here is where the power of the niche comes in. With podcasting, the more niche the product the more powerful the podcast can become. Whilst the appeal of a global fan base for “tennis” may seem appealing there can be real value in pinpointing who your audience is for and identifying an under-catered for the market. Not only will this help you find and market to a specific audience but it will help you shape your content and serve that audience in the best way possible. Having a very focused audience also helps you learn more about them, where they live, what they do, some platforms even tell you what other podcasts they listen to. This information can be really valuable when trying to monetise your show with a potential sponsor.

Post-launch, consistency is key! Releasing episodes in a scattergun, random way can not only be frustrating for an audience but it can also damage your podcast ranking. Even the most engaging, interesting podcast can get forgotten about by listeners if they are dropping two episodes one month and none the next. Building a routine into your publishing and listening habits can be key in building a regular and committed audience. Make your episode releases an “event” in your listeners lives rather than making them work to discover new episodes as and when you decide to drop them.

The Sport Social Podcast Team in the Studio

Sophie Hind – MD of Voiceworks

Sophie Hind has built a successful career working in strategic roles with some of the biggest media companies in the UK. Before joining Voiceworks, Sophie was the Regional Strategy Director at Global for nine years. Prior to this, Sophie also held roles at ITV, Jazz FM and Capital Radio Group.

Join a podcast network!

There can be many benefits to joining a Podcast Network… and there are a few out there to choose from.

First off, if you are new to the world of Podcasting then having fellow content creators who have “been there and done that” can be a valuable sounding board for your ideas on everything from show features to new artwork.

It can also be a great way to market and grow individual shows under one umbrella, something we actively do on the Sport Social Podcast Network. Podcasting isn’t as competitive as a media format as Radio and TV – shows rarely compete for ears so recommending and promoting what might be termed a “rival” show is very unlikely to impact your own audience figures.

By the same token, podcast networks can be a great way to source guests for your podcast and opportunities for you to guest on other shows. Inviting guests with good networks onto your show and appearing on other shows can both be great ways to grow your audience. The former means the guest is likely (and you can agree this first) to share their episode with their network of fans whilst the latter allows listeners to another podcast to sample a bit of you as a personality and may encourage them to find out more about your podcast… almost like a try before you buy!

Whilst guests can be friends, experts, or fellow network members. The golden egg is always going to be, particularly within sport, the athlete with the big, loyal following. If you are lucky enough to secure some time with the David Beckhams’ or LeBron James’ or Brodie Retallicks’ of this world make sure you make the most of it. Not only do all you can to ensure they are willing to share the episode and any appropriate marketing material (maybe even create a mini-press kit) into their social media but also plan your own marketing using social media and episode teasers to maximise the impact your guest will have… there are some more tips on that from Marley later.

A good guest need not be a one-hit moment either. Keeping an eye on their activities can provide opportunities to re-post old episodes or even specific moments from those episodes, and benefit from the exposure all over again.

Jim Salveson – Head of Sport Social

Jim heads up the Sport Social project. He has spent 20 years making audio for a number of high profile brands including the BBC, Communicorp UK, Global Radio and Bauer Media and has been making podcasts since the early days of the iPod.

Learn the Dark Arts of Podcast SEO!

The magic formula to podcast discoverability is shrouded in mystery. The likes of Apple and Spotify remain the prominent way that listeners discover podcasts and it can feel like that without cracking the chart code or having a superstar host you are fighting a losing battle.

Whilst both those things do no doubt help discoverability there are a few tips and tricks you can also employ to give your show the best chance to reach a listener’s ears.

Listen, Follow, Review: You will hear this on every podcast you listen to… guaranteed. Whilst these three simple instructions do help your podcast ranking (each one impacts your position on the charts by different extents AND helps you retain audience) the phrase has become so commonplace it has lost all meaning. Whilst offering incentives and prizes for reviews is forbidden by Apple Podcast’s rules there are other things you can do to encourage people to take those actions. Think about how you can treat the topic creatively… Is there something you can do on the podcast that makes the reviews an interactive part of the show? Can you give people a specific reason to hit follow by teasing some brilliant content coming next week? Before just churning out “don’t forget to subscribe” on your next show ask yourself what’s in it for the listener?

Podcast SEO: You will have no doubt heard about Search Engine Optimisation. We are all familiar with how Google works and how it finds the best solution to your query – well podcasting works the same way. There is no way to cheat the system – you need to put in the hard yards – but you can give yourself the best chance of being found. Loading keywords into your podcast title and description can really help discoverability. If you have a show about horse racing but you call your podcast “The Track” you are missing a trick. The best approach with podcast titles is a Ronseal “Does what it says on the tin” tactic. Be explicit about what your show is and it’ll make it much easier to be found (ie. The Track: A Horse Racing Podcast). The same goes for episode titles and descriptions. If your series is about a specific event in the sporting calendar make sure you are mentioning it in EVER show title on that topic and including it (and variations of it) in your podcast description and remember; the higher up the page the term the more important it is considered. If you want to take your podcast SEO seriously there are a few tools available that help you analyze and improve your SEO score.

Build a Webpage: In an ideal world, your podcast should have its own website and each episode of your podcast should have its own page with detailed descriptions, show notes and maybe even a transcript of that episode but in truth… who has the time?

There is no doubt that this approach helps people to discover your show via regular web search (again it’s about SEO) and may even play a really important part in how search works in the future with the growth of “Voice First” but the effort and money involved in doing so can be prohibitive.

Some podcast networks (such as ours – The Sport Social Podcast Network) offer their podcasters a bespoke landing page where they can add show information, photos and help build that online presence. It won’t have the same impact as building your own site but it does give you a searchable footprint on the world wide web!

Marley Anderson – Head of Social at Sport Social

Marley is our chief meme maker, podcast regular, and resident Newcastle fan. He’s been a social media manager for over five years, working for one of the world’s biggest social media companies before joining us as head of social media. 

Promote (and promote and promote) your podcast on Social Media!

Social media can be a great tool when building a podcast audience – but I guess I would say that.

Just because you’ve made a new episode and stuck it on the usual channels doesn’t mean that listeners are going to find you. Social media can be a great and effective tool in not only finding new fans but also reminding old ones that you are still active.

My most important piece of advice here is to make sure what you post is engaging. A simple tweet announcing a new episode and its content is fine but is unlikely to have much impact, especially in terms of engaging new listeners. At Sport Social, we use Audiograms (a short video enhanced audio clips) on a regular basis to give social media users browsing their timeline a taste of what our shows sound and feel like – it’s a great way of enticing people to click “Listen”.

Make sure you mix it up too. Social Media can be a tiring place if you are constantly being “Sold” things. Whilst it can be a really effective tool in driving listeners it can also be a great way to reinforce your own brand identity. Post about the world around your podcast, not just the world within it. This is particularly important in Sport podcasting where there is a constant dialogue around matches, events and games. Think about what you can do and how you can react to major news stories and think how you can position yourself as an important (and entertaining) voice in that market.

Remember, Social Media should be just that…social. It’s not a one-way broadcast. Don’t treat your channels as ONLY a way to shout about your latest show. Have a conversation with your followers, ask questions, get involved in debates. All these things will help generate a community amongst your followers/listeners and deepen their engagement. This will help lead to a loyal and passionate following – something that is massively appealing to potential sponsors.

If you want to join the Sport Social Podcast Network then get in touch!