It has been five months since the Kansas City Chiefs launched their own podcast network and so far the NFL franchise says it has had more than a half million downloads of the four shows it produces. That success has spurred the Chiefs to put two additional podcasts into development. And it’s predicting the Chiefs Podcast Network could top a million downloads next year.
Chiefs VP of Content Mike Cukyne, who joined the team last year after working in management and digital sales for local television stations, tells Front Office Sports that it’s not the download numbers that tell him they’re heading in the right direction. Instead, it’s the fact that 40% of their podcast listeners keep coming back to listen to new episodes. “I want people to consume our content on a regular basis,” he told the website. “I don’t want five million people consuming one podcast. I want fewer doing it more often.”
The Chiefs Podcast Network’s four shows currently include In the Trenches, a weekly show that features Chiefs Reporter BJ Kissel and six-year NFL veteran offensive lineman Nick Leckey. There’s also Defending The Kingdom, hosted by radio play-by-plan announcer Mitch Holthus and 10 year NFL veteran and former Chiefs linebacker Shawn Barber. The Breakdown includesChiefs reporter Matt McMullen as he breaks down the Chiefs' last game with analysis, locker room interviews and Mitch Holthus' radio calls. The lineup also features Kingdom Stories, a show that allows players, in their own works, to explain the challenges and adversities they overcame to get to the highest level of football.
By tapping the Chief’s radio talent, Cukyne told Front Office Sports they were able to ramp up their podcast efforts more quickly. “I don’t want to just throw somebody on a podcast to talk about offense – unless it is thought through,” he said. The network is also slowly adding advertising to its shows.
The Chiefs aren’t the only team to embrace podcasting. The Philadelphia Eagles have been producing podcasts for the past five years and the NFL team now produces nine shows.
Seth Everett, who hosts the Sports with Friends podcast, told Front Office Sports that many NFL teams like the idea of producing their own podcasts rather than relying on local sports talk radio stations to cover the team—often with commentary that’s critical of coaches and players. “Control your content. It’s very simple, but it’s so smart,” said Everett.
Sports radio consultant Jason Barrett added that it is also easier and cheaper for a team to get into the podcast space than buy its own radio station, a strategy most notably used by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
“With revenue projections for podcasting increasing year after year, and franchises able to leverage their access to produce content which will strengthen their relevance with fans, and grow revenue in multiple ways, it’s an easy business decision,” said Barrett. “I expect to see this trend continue with other sports franchises.”