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March 15, 2022 // Shane Arman // Opinion  //       //  Opinion

The Sport of Podcasting

The podcasting industry is having a moment – one with the potential staying-power to radically upend the media landscape, if it hasn’t already. More Americans (41%) reported listening to a podcast in 2021 compared with 32% who said the same in 2019, with between 85 million to 100 million regular podcast listeners overall in 2022.

This sustaining moment presents opportunities for a myriad of industries and disciplines – especially for marketing and communications professionals. From a public relations standpoint, podcasts have historically taken a back seat in favor of leveraging traditional media outlets in broadcast, digital, social and television. But it’s time for PR professionals to bring podcasts to the adult table as a relevant staple of any balanced campaign diet. Let’s take a look at the top podcast platform’s meteoric rise to the top to understand more.

Just as Netflix led a shift in consumer entertainment consumption from traditional cable to streaming, Spotify is at the center of transforming the audio industry. The streaming giant made a strong statement and all-in bet on its future by shelling out nearly $200 million in February 2020 to acquire Bill Simmons’  sports-focused podcasting network “The Ringer.” And let’s just say, that move has paid off. 

In taking over Apple as the top podcast platform, Spotify tripled its podcast library in a SINGLE year leading into 2020 and its audience listened to TWICE as many podcast hours in Q4 2020. Spotify turned that content boost and consumption spike into a 200% increase in podcast revenue in Q2 2021 and more than 100% increase in Q3 2021.

As a sports marketer and borderline-obsessive sports fan, I can’t help but be fascinated by the rise of podcasts and the sports industry’s starring role in it. Allison+Sports recently launched its first sports marketing-focused podcast in late February, and we’re excited to see it evolve as the landscape grows. And boy is it growing. 

The COVID-19 pandemic stripped sports fans of in-person live sports, and that interest spilled over into increased podcast consumption. Nearly a third of Americans (29%) said they spent more time listening to podcasts as a result of the pandemic, while downloads of sports podcasts doubled year-over-year from 2020 to 2021 (according to Podtrac, which tracks podcast audiences and consumption). This pace shows no signs of slowing down post-pandemic. 

Furthermore, podcasts outpace many mediums in consumer attention focus – 66% of people prefer listening to podcasts over watching TV and podcasts are consumed more than TV (66%), social media (59%), and books (75%), according to DiscoverPods.

This sports podcast phenomenon isn’t slowing down in 2022. In February, Spotify launched The Roster, a sports-focused podcast editorial hub where “fans can find a five-episode weekly curation of the biggest sports conversations under Podcast Browse every Thursday.”

Podcasts are here to stay, and there are more dedicated podcast resources for PR professionals than ever. Most measurement and PR platforms now feature the ability to search, find and pitch podcast contacts. MuckRack allows you to “search for podcasters by keyword based on their past podcast episodes, articles and tweets.” While Cision “allows customers to pinpoint brand mentions across 25,000+ top ranking podcasts.”

Not only is it easy to find the appropriate podcast to pitch, many of the same foundational PR pitching principles still apply to successfully securing guest interview slots for clients. 

According to MuckRack’s 2021 “The State of Podcasting,” the most common reasons why podcasters reject pitches are a lack of personalization (47%) or bad timing (42%). Overwhelmingly, podcast hosts say they prefer to be pitched 1:1 via email (91%), while 22% prefer a Twitter pitch and 19% prefer a LinkedIn pitch. 

If podcasts aren’t currently on your radar, the best way to get familiar is simple… start sampling podcasts to find your preferred flavor. The Allison+Sports team has curated a quick hitter list of our top sports picks below to get you going. Happy podcasting!

Shane Winn, Managing Director, Strategy & Sports Marketing:

  • I may be slightly biased, but my favorite podcast is the one I executive produce, the Allison+Sports Podcast. Our ongoing podcast series will feature sports experts from across the company chatting with diverse sports professionals in multiple formats - from breaking news quick hitters, to 1-on-1 interviews and more. 

Kendra Stowe, Account Director, Integrated Marketing:

  • The Old Man and the Three with JJ Reddick and Tommy Alter: I love this podcast because I’m from North Carolina, so there’s the JJ Reddick Duke tie-in. Basketball is one of my favorite sports to watch, so I love that they are a true interview-style podcast and combine entertainment and hoops. 

Alex Pitocchelli, Vice President, Sports Marketing:

  • Men In Blazers hosted by Roger Bennett and Michael Davies. There is so much happening across the soccer universe and Roger and Michael do a fantastic job of breaking down the story lines that you’d need to know to be a global soccer expert. 

Shane Arman, Vice President, Sports Marketing:

  • The Joe Pomp Show with Joe Pompliano talks to the world's most high-profile athletes and executives about their life, career, business and investments. I enjoy this podcast because it digs into both on and off the field topics with pro athletes and the format is simple and clean.

Shane Arman is a 10+ year sports marketing veteran and a founding member of the Allison+Sports team whose wife calls him the most competitive person she's ever known. He's a cornhole champion, obsessive golfer and casual 16inch-softball shortstop who tirelessly roots for Wisconsin sports teams. Consumer Brands

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