I recently started freelancing for an online site called Valet Magazine, which is a great new Web site that focuses on men’s health, grooming, fashion and culture. Two former co-workers from my days at the Northern Star and with Take ONE started the site, and I wish them nothing but the best.
My story focuses on sports podcasts, and how the medium has matured in the last couple of years. Audiences for these digital downloads have grown, as sports media giants like ESPN have made it a priority with new content produced every day. But do you ever really read anything about them? You can read the story here, and below I’ve included a few notes that I couldn’t work into the story:
- ESPN first partnered with Apple’s iTunes to offer a daily podcast of ESPN radio highlights and interviews in July of 2005, Horine said. ESPN eventually developed its own central location to find podcasts with PodCenter in April 2006, offering 10 different podcasts covering various sports-related topics. That number has grown in the past two-plus years, including such original content as a boxing podcast, two different fantasy sports podcasts and a singular focus on specific sports like with the Baseball Today podcast. On a random day in October, ESPN produced 11 of the top 15 most popular sports podcasts as listed by iTunes.
“We want to expand in areas that people can’t get enough of,” said Horine.
Horine cites the BS Report as one of ESPN’s greatest online-only successes. The show is hosted by popular ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons, and features a mix of interviews with media members, sports figures and friends from throughout the columnist’s life who mix liberal amounts of humor into the sports talk of the week. Horine said the show averages about 250,000 – 300,000 downloads per week, aided by prominent references to the audio files on ESPN.com’s main page.
- ESPN gathered data for a “demographic snapshot” of listeners through its PodCenter page, compiling about 300,000 answers to questions of age and gender. Horine said the survey fell fairly in line with most ESPN Web users (young, male) with slight variances based on the podcast. As far as the future goes, Horine said the industry needs to come up with a metric across all podcasts to make it easier to gauge the audience for podcasts and thus easier to sell advertisers on the value of captive listeners.
- In a recent week, ESPN calculated about 2.2 million downloads of its podcast content
- With data just a hard drive crash away from being no more, some of the early podcasts have been lost. Baseball Prospectus’ Will Carroll said, “We did a show with David Halberstam I’d kill to have.” Halberstam, the prominent author and reporter who wrote such books as October 1964, passed away in 2007.
- Dan Levy, host of the On the DL podcast, does an interesting thing to make things work among a guest, himself and a co-host in another town. He and co-host Nick Tarnowski are connected through the Skype service, and while an interview is going on they will communicate through instant messenger to prepare who will ask the next question and not have three people talking at once.
- Levy, on the caller-centric programming approach taken by many talk radio stations: “I just don’t think that’s quality programming.”
The headline for the story is a bit provocative, as the rest of the story shows that many radio stations have joined in and sliced and diced their programming for easy podcast consumption. It’s more that a new kid has moved into talker town, and they’re developing an alternative way to enjoy sports talk.