With more than 60 podcasts in the ESPN lineup, don’t expect a flood of new shows from the sports network. Tom Ricks, VP of Digital Marketing and Strategy at ESPN Audio, tells Front Office Sports that the company plans to be more “strategic” about adding new podcasts, with an eye toward profitability.
“The new hot thing to do is have your own podcast. But we try to be strategic about who we actually give a podcast to,” said Ricks. He told the website that the decision-making process will include looking at what sort of interaction ESPN talent has with their audience before greenlighting a podcast. “A lot of that starts with how much of an audience they have themselves, whether that be on television or social media and other places,” said Ricks.
ESPN launched “ESPN Daily” hosted by Mina Kimes three months ago and downloads of the show have nearly tripled. The fast growth of the show is being credited by ESPN for helping propel its podcast user numbers forward. In December, ESPN Podcasts set a new record for the month with a unique U.S. audience of 6.9 million, according to Podtrac. That was a smaller number than the 7.3 million it had during November, but ESPN points out it was a 43% increase compared to the prior December. It was also the 12th consecutive month of year-over-year growth. ESPN’s current podcast lineup includes about three dozen originals plus on-demand versions of ESPN Radio and TV content.
Ricks told the sports news website that the multiplatform approach has extended to sales, with advertisers given the option of packaging podcast ad buys with spots they’re placing on radio or television. “It comes down to the demand for the product and what the advertisers’ appetite is to buy multi-platform,” said Ricks. But one thing they’ve so far rejected is requests by advertisers to buy the title sponsorship of a podcast or adding a brand’s logo to the podcast logo.
ESPN hasn’t released any details on how much advertising revenue it is pocketing from podcasts, but media analyst Brad Adgate estimates it could be more than $10 million a year.