Where everyone has something to say

Maybe Andy Warhol had the right idea, but the wrong medium: in the future, it’s not that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. It’s that everyone will produce a sports podcast.

Start with ESPN: The Disney-owned sports media giant offers dozens of digital audio shows to play anytime you want, racking up, according to ESPN’s press service, 499 million garish downloads last year. It’s just a fraction of the market.

Sports reporter Bill Simmons plant 48 podcasts on her The Ringer.com website, mixing amateur shows like “Sports Cards Nonsense” (exactly what you think it is) with larger podcasts, like the one where Simmons talks about HBO Max and the Patriots.

Not to be forgotten (although one could certainly wish it) Barstool Sports brings its sibling sensibility to nearly 100 sports podcasts, ranging from baseball-themed “Starting9” to “Fore Play” (don’t get upset; this is golf).

Most of these and more podcasts are available on various sites, including digital audio platforms like Spotify, where you can browse the digital aisles to choose from 2.2 million podcast episodes. We will wait.

In Colorado, we’re all about sports podcasts. There are NHL podcasts (“Hockey Mountain High” from Mile High Sports), football podcasts (“Predominantly Orange”, from the eponymous site), sports betting podcasts (“DNVR Bets” from the company). sports media DNVR) and fishing podcasts (KKFN-FM’s “Terry Wickstrom Outdoors”). There are even podcasts underlying podcasts. On iHeartMedia’s KOA-AM, Broncos lineman Shelby Harris hosts “Shel-Shocked,” one of four KOA podcasts entirely dedicated to the Denver Broncos, because: Broncos.

Podcasts are stand-alone audio experiences (the “pod” element), most of which – and this is the important part – available to listen to whenever you want. “If you’re going to lunch at 12:17 and want to listen to ‘The Avalanche Podcast’ at 12:17, guess what? You can. ”That’s Brandon Spano, CEO of DNVR Media, sharing one of the reasons he believes podcasts will one day become the dominant form of audio entertainment, even surpassing live radio.

That kind of heady optimism is one of the reasons companies keep turning on microphones and allowing intro music despite a crowded playground. In October, when sports radio station KKFN launched a post-game podcast dedicated to the Colorado Avalanche, the idea was to “super serve” the fans who can’t get enough of the team. The belief of Program Director Raj Sharan is that “the most successful podcasts are hyper-focused, with a really specific target audience.”

This fine focus, however, is added to many podcasts. Which means a lot of opportunities not to make a lot of money.

Former ESPN boss Jon Skipper summed it up in a Bloomberg interview in September. “I sometimes say that every scoundrel in journalism’s last refuge is for them to announce that they’re doing a podcast,” said Skipper, now a partner of a sports media company called Meadowlark Media, which is looking for talent for… wait. … the sport. podcasts. Skipper points out that if you take the total amount advertisers spend nationwide on podcasts (roughly $ 1.5 billion per year) and divide it by the number of podcasts produced (millions), the average of income comes to something like $ 2 per hour.

Obviously, there are stars who defy the rule. Yet because of the tonnage, this is not a faint-hearted, or light bank account. Spano, whose media company recently expanded into the Phoenix market with a combination of live and on-demand video and audio podcasts, points out that the sprawl of sports podcasts makes it difficult for anyone to break into the market from. zero. Instead, he thinks podcasts work best to supplement an existing media business. “You have to have an audience first,” says Spano.

His reasoning aligns with the thinking of the KKFN. Although Sharan’s main focus is to broadcast a live show, he believes KKFN podcasts work well to extend the reach of the KKFN brand outside of the normal radio environment. Ditto for Mile High Sports, where CEO Nate Lundy, who also values ​​podcasts for their ability to focus on granular topics, says “having as many tentacles in the audience as possible gives you the best chance of success.”

For fans, the sports podcasting revolution is, as kids say, all is well. Fans have more choices than ever to hear directly from players, owners, reporters, fellow fans and even referees. Plus, there’s a human dimension: There is something inevitably appealing about hearing a person’s high-resolution voice whistling pleasantly through your headphones. (If in doubt, check out the weird but growing field of podcasts devoted to the “autonomic sensory meridian response” or ASMR. You’re welcome.)

This leaves podcasts in an interesting position vis-à-vis the sports media ecosystem. They are great for listeners and good for brand building. When it comes to making money, however, podcasts are a bit like a minor league club’s utility shortstop: hopeful, but at least for now, running out of money. silver.

Stewart schley writes about sports, media and technology in Denver. Read this and Schley’s earlier chronicles on the web at cobizmag.com and email him at [email protected]