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Why Rights-holders should leave content creation to the professionals

You wouldn’t ask your Head Physio to cook the pies on a match day, so why do many professional sports bodies ask their media teams to create content that is outside of their core competencies?

Fan-facing content is undoubtedly an important part of any Rights-holders commercial strategy. Not only does it bring supporters closer to the sport and allow them to forge their own narrative, but it also can prove to be a valuable revenue stream – but only if the outputted resource can match the cash coming in.

Let’s take football clubs as an example who are, in the main, leading the line in terms of digital content creation within sport.

For years the perceived wisdom has been that as well as running the day-to-day activities of a football club they should also function as a media house creating video, social and audio content for the fans.

As Roger Mitchell, Founder at Albachiara SAGL pointed out on a recent episode of the Unofficial Partner podcast, that viewpoint is now beginning to change:

“Sports are now starting to say, that’s not my core competence. I will never be good enough to do that because no matter how good I get at it, the management and ownership time that is dedicated to what I do compared to the player side is a fraction. Saving through efficiency, better recruitment better selling on the player side massively outweighs whatever you do on the revenue, it’s not even close. I think smart owners are starting to realise this now and they’re saying, not only shouldn’t I do this internally and how can I get into a partnership way of doing it?”

Roger Mitchell, Founder of Albachiara SAGL

That’s not to say that Rights-holders should just totally abandon the idea of content creation as B2C communication but rather they should find the right partners to deliver it on their behalf to improve efficiency, and quality and allow them to focus on the most important parts of their jobs.

Outsourcing this content also allows Rights-holders to find the right content creators for their target medium and audience rather than relying on whoever happens to be within their content team. Finding content producers that truly understand the medium of delivery and the tone required to reach an audience can dramatically improve the effectiveness, engagement, and impact of any piece of audio.

We need to hire producers that reflect our audience. That relatability between who’s asking the question, who’s doing the filming, who’s speaking to the athlete and brand.

Stephen Sidlo, Head of Media at Airspeeder (Speaking at the Broadcast Sports Round Table)

Outsourcing production can sometimes however be an expensive option compared to using internal resources. This is why it’s important to take a similar approach to the commercial side. Although the digital revenue may not compare to that of player acquisitions and transfers there is still significant money on the table.

At Sport Social Podcast Network, we are a trusted partner of official Rights-holder and our offering considers both sides of this conversation. Firstly, we have a production team that knows how to use audio to connect to fans and audiences, taking into consideration the values and voice of our Rights-holder partners. Secondly, we understand the value of audio/media as official content based on the value of both the content itself and of partnership.

This gives our partner clubs, teams and official bodies total confidence that not only can we create content that connects to their fans and delivers their values but also that they can achieve full commercial value from that content, making it more cost-effective than using internal resources.

It’s time that Rights-holders take the same approach to podcasting as I take to plumbing! I could have a go at fixing that leaking tap, but it would be quicker, easier, probably cheaper and lead to a much better job (and happier wife) if I got a professional to do the job.

Why Sports Fans Are Flooding To Audio

A new study compiled by SiriusXM Media, GroupM and Edison Research has highlighted some key statistics which reflect the power of podcasting. Our Director of Sport Jim Salveson takes a look at what the research teaches us.

It’s always nice when someone backs up your hypothesis with some raw data – and that’s exactly what’s happened this week.

I’ve been a sport podcast evangelist for years now. Singing its praises as a tool for not only fan engagement but also as an effective advertising tool, providing direct access to those same audiences.

Now, thanks to a preview of a new report there’s a load of data to back up that belief.

Sirius XS have partnered with GroupM and Edison Research to dig into the audio habits of sports fans in the USA and the results for audio are incredibly strong.

Firstly, The report found that the average American sports fan consumes over 30% more audio than non-sports fans, Taking in 6 hours and 26 minutes of audio across radio, podcasts, and satiate channels every single day.

What I found very interesting though was the driving reasons that sports fans were filling their media diet with so much audio.

“66% of Sport listeners say they listen to hear unique perspectives on sports that aren’t covered in other media, and 60% listen to get exclusive content.”

SiriusXM Media, GroupM and Edison Research

I have long talked about the power of the niche in podcasting. If mainstream media is “broadcasting” then podcasting could be referred to as “narrowcasting”.

Podcasting is great at filling content voids that exist within the traditional media landscape. Driven largely by production costs, podcasts can cater to smaller audiences offering a platform to under-represented voices or, as is the case here, lesser-covered sporting events.

Insight is also important. Sport podcasting has also become the home of the ITK (In The Know) fan correspondent, who is perfectly positioned to give a listener exclusive insider information on a club or team from their insider contacts. There is a shadow, secretive feel to it that is in contrast to the shiny showbiz feel of a TV studio that can make an audience feel like they are part of a special elite club!

Podcasting also offers an alternative to the often very straight and controlled athlete interview.

Audio is a far more relaxed medium than television. Not only is the equipment used to capture the content far less intrusive, allowing for an interviewee to be more relaxed, but the long-form nature of the medium often allows athletes more space to open up and be authentic about their experiences on and off the field – providing even more exclusive content you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

“86% of sport listeners say they listen to stay connected to their team or sport, 58% to be part of the community of fans, and 56% to feel more connected to friends/family/colleagues.”

SiriusXM Media, GroupM and Edison Research

Audio is a very intimate media.

Audiences often build close relationships with their hosts who can often feel like they are communicating on a one-to-one basis (direct into their ears!) rather than to thousands of listeners at a time.

For those who consume their sport content away from the stadia in which their chosen event occurs, often the missing element is “community”.

If, like me, you live 200 miles away from your chosen sports team, it can be easy to stay up-to-date with the action on the pitch but nearly impossible to feel connected to the fanbase. You can’t stand with fellow fans on a match day or involve yourself in conversations about your local sports team with other pub dwellers – and podcasting can be a part replacement for those relationships.

If those physical relationships do exist in a fan’s life, podcasting can also serve to provide listeners with “social ammunition” creating talking points and helping to form opinions, further building those connections between fans.

“52% of sports listeners say they listen to be a more informed sports bettor, and 44% to be a more informed fantasy sports player.”

SiriusXM Media, GroupM and Edison Research

Good sporting insight is of high value in the sport podcast world and podcasting is the perfect channel for this content, again because it can easily service a niche!

Sport podcasting allows creators to “go deep” on topics. Once a podcast listener is listening to content, they rarely switch away.

The average listen-through rates to a podcast are between 70-80% (based on an hour-long show) so the medium is ideally suited to genres such as Fantasy Sport and Betting where detail is all important as it leads to that all-important competitive edit.

What drives these longer listen-through rates? It’s not the technology or delivery channels, it’s the permission given by the audience.

With podcasting, listeners have sought out specific shows to serve a content need. They are seeking out topics that they have a keen interest in – so it follows that they would spend longer with that topic. This, I believe is one of the main factors in that 30% rise vs average audio consumption amongst sports audiences.

Time to follow the money?

One of the other interesting takeaways from this report preview was the spending power of sport fans.

“Compared to sports video viewers, sports podcast listeners are bigger spenders. They spend an average of $321 on sports merch/memorabilia in a year, compared to just $185 for sports video viewers. Sport podcast listeners are more likely to be employed, highly educated, and affluent compared to sports AM/FM radio listeners and sports video viewers.”

SiriusXM Media, GroupM and Edison Research

Not only do sport podcast listeners have the cash to burn but they also have a deep connection and engagement with their favourite podcasts making them very open to podcast advertising and commercial messaging. Advertising spend in sport podcasting is growing faster than in any other genre due to its super-engaged audience, always-on nature, and accountability vs alternative sports advertising such as shirt sponsorship. You can read more about that here:

With a growing audience, engaged fans and strong commercial performance sport podcasting both in the US and in the UK is providing a real opportunity for creators and advertisers alike.

You can read the full preview here:

Why are advertisers and brands racing to be part of the sports podcast crowd? 

To use an appropriate sporting analogy, when it comes to advertising, sports podcasts are punching well above their weight. 

A recent report from the IAB shows that US advertising spend within podcasting grew £90 million year on year. Whilst the genre growth in advertising revenue is not remarkable in its own right, since all podcasts are growing advertising revenue annually, what is exceptional is that the growth outstrips both its performance in terms of market share and audience.

In 2022, the US sports genre attracted 15% of advertising revenue, up from 11% the previous year and knocking “news” from that top spot for the first time since 2018. 

So, why are brands turning to sports audio as a way to reach audiences and market their brands?

Sports Audiences are Super-Engaged

There is a lot of synergy between sports fans and podcast audiences. Both groups share very similar characteristics: They are both loyal to their favourites, very engaged and extremely passionate. 

Spotify’s research in 2019 found that 81% of podcast listeners took action after hearing a host read advert during a podcast — anything from looking up a product online to connecting with a brand on social media to talking about a product with someone. 

That route to action is often driven by the connection felt between a listener and a podcast host. It’s easy to see how that sense of connection can be amplified when you add a favourite sports team into the mix. A passionate fan is likely to feel equally strongly about their favourite show discussing that sport and the hosts that lead the discussion. 

Advertisers can tap into that passion by aligning with the right shows and hosts. 

That’s the opportunity for brands to align with the host, for example, a Bill Simmons or a J.J .Redick, and then get a direct connection into those fans whether it be a sales lead/acquisition type of thing like getting more people to sign up for Seatgeek or to build up the brand

Sean Callanan (The Sports Geek podcast) speaking to Pitch

Sports podcasts are also great for consumer recall. Podcasting is great for building an emotional connection between the audience and the show and that connection is heightened with sports podcasts because the emotion elicited is often heightened. Anger, joy, despair, and stress are all common emotions associated with sports. Emotion is a powerful aid to memory (just think about your clearest memories, they will almost all be connected to moments of high emotion both positive and negative) and that can translate to associated brands as much as big in-game events or podcast content.

Podcasts Never Stop

Much of sports sponsorship and advertising focuses on the main event itself. Shirt sponsorship, digital signage and half-time ad breaks all rely on the sport itself but podcasting provides the opportunity to reach outside of those key moments. 

Be it the gap in season between events or the space in the close season, shows that focus on content such as news, gossip, and interviews of sports-format content can give advertisers a touch point aside from those big moments – and an ability to reach those fans throughout the whole year. 

As Kevin Straley, chief content officer at TuneIn points out, there is always a hunger for good sports content: 

I certainly think for the four major sports there are fans that want to get more content in that off-season, and sports talk radio is not the only place to get it,”  

Kevin Straley, Chief Content Officer – TuneIn

As Kevin suggests, sports radio does fill some of that voice. But where the broadcast medium of radio is forced to appeal to a large mass audience, the narrowcast nature of podcasting allows brands to find incredibly targeted, sometimes niche, pockets of fans. 

This leads to the third driving factor behind the sports podcasts boom…

Accountability and Targeting

As mentioned earlier, traditional sports advertising focuses on mass visibility (think shirt sponsors and digital hoarding) where the sheer size of an audience gives brands access to their core demographic. Even with these large audiences, there is a healthy amount of good faith involved that messages land with the correct audience and resulting action is taken. 

Podcasting can offer a level of targeting and accountability that other media sales find hard to match. 

The growth in dynamically inserted Host Read Adverts (HRA’s) over the last five years can give advertisers even more certainty that their campaigns are reaching the right ears. In 2019, 52% of HRA campaigns we’re “baked in” to podcasts (part of the source audio files) now that number is down to just 16% meaning that ad tech can not only ensure that certain listener demographics hear the advert (defined by variants of age, location, sex and more) but also track the impact those ads are having and if positive action is being taken by the audience.

We are discovering who our listeners are, where they are, and how they engage with brands. The anonymised, granular data that we can draw from is hugely powerful and only goes to add to the value that can be offered alongside audio’s already very exciting data on recall and engagement.

Andrea Day – Operations Director (Voiceworks)

These three triggers are just some of the qualities that have led to the current interest in sports podcasts from advertisers which means that for many official bodies and rights holders podcasting is now a realistic major revenue stream as well as being a fantastic PR tool and a way to engage new and existing fanbases. 

RIP GOOGLE PODCASTS: WHY DID IT FAIL?

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.