Voice technology, engagement & revenue… or why you should integrate podcasts into your content strategy.
Spotify or Apple Podcasts? Short stories, interviews, non-fiction? Comedy, sport, society & culture, business? Do you listen to podcasts? For news, education or entertainment?
And what about your sports organization? You’re already using your website, blog, social media (and maybe your own app or OTT streaming) to connect with fans and keep them engaged, but currently almost everybody is listening to and talking about podcasts and you’re probably wondering whether you should give them a try.
Well, you definitely should! Podcasts are becoming mainstream media. Audio content is on the rise and in this article you’ll discover a wide variety of reasons for using it, ranging from current technology trends, through time & cost-effectiveness, to some long-term communication strategies. So let’s get started!
There are currently over 850,000 active podcasts and over 30 million podcast episodes available.
In 2020 over 155 million people (in the US) listen to a podcast every week.
Around 68% of the US population (over 100 Million) listen to podcasts monthly.
Podcast listeners consume an average of seven different shows (over 6,5 hours of content) per week.
The most popular age group for podcast listeners is 25-44 which make up 49% of total listeners.
There is growth in the 35+ population, since older audiences are embracing digital audio as they become more familiar with non-traditional media.
Are you surprised? Amazed? And if these numbers (from the beginning of 2020) aren’t impressive enough, according to the latest updates, the global podcast consumption (especially in Europe) has increased significantly during the covid-lockdown. [2,3]
Voice Technology Trends
With the ever growing number of devices incorporating voice assistant technology, more than six in ten Americans use some form of voice assistance (and that’s also indicative of general trends in other countries). This gives content producers and advertisers new and unique ways to communicate with audio consumers.
Smart speakers are replacing radios in the home. Smart speaker ownership jumped by another 17% in 2020, and now reaches 76 Million people (in the US). The average household now owns 2.2 devices, while 32% of homes are now confirmed to not have radios, and the average number of devices per household has dropped to 1.5. 
the transition in audio device ownership proves that users are embracing new ways of engaging with audio content
Furthermore, smart speaker ownership not only brings audio entertainment into the home, but it also opens up a whole new voice-enabled engagement between listeners and brands.
So how do these stats and trends relate to your sports organization?
Well, whether you work for a sports club, league, team or any kind sports organization, it’s all about your digital presence. Your fans are probably already listening to podcasts, whether they are sports-related or on any other topic (and if they still aren’t they most likely will, given the increasing popularity of podcasting) so it’s in your best interest to reach them and engage them with your very own, unique audio content.
Additional Communication Channel
As we’ve all discovered during the covid-enforced break in sports, the world of fandom goes way beyond live competition. Fans crave content and entertainment related to and produced by their favorite sports clubs.
Moreover, as part of a larger trend, sports organizations are moving in the direction of becoming media houses or broadcasting centers, producing and streaming their own sports and lifestyle content. So if your organization is aspiring to become the BBC, apart from the tv channels, you’d also want the radio frequencies, right? You want your fans to consume your content, whether they watch it or listen to it, or both.
Fans’ Time and Attention
According to the Podcast Trends Report 2019 by Discover Pods, 82,4% of podcast listeners spend more than seven hours per week tuning into podcasts. That’s an average of over an hour a day for most listeners and for some of the respondents it’s more time than they spend on social media or watching television! 
More time than on social media! Incredible, right? And in our current reality of crazy-short attention spans, micro-news and a fierce fight for screen time (and well, ear-time) having an additional channel to connect with fans (over longer periods of time) is pure gold in terms of fan engagement.
You can find out more about boosting fan engagement with audio content in my next article on how to build deeper relationships with fans and generate revenue with podcasts, but now let’s continue with our practical pro-podcasts reasons.
Monetizing Audio Content
Having your fans spend more time consuming your audio content, you’ll be able to build stronger relationships with them and this deeper fan engagement will open a variety of monetization opportunities.
As stated in the 2019 eMarketer report, 54% of podcast listeners are either somewhat or much more likely to consider buying from a brand after hearing its advertisement on a podcast and consequently podcast advertising revenues projected to surpass $1 billion annually by 2021. 
So whether you’re thinking of increasing your own revenue, expanding your sponsorship deals or finding new sponsors, you should definitely consider experimenting with advertising in audio content.
Lower Production Costs
A great advantage of podcasts is that It doesn’t take much to get started (compared to other media). When you consider the investment of time, money and human resources, audio content is incredibly cost-effective. It’s definitely cheaper and easier to produce than video and while it’s more challenging to produce than written communication, it has a greater power of emotional transmission.
audio is a very flexible medium and a less scripted, more conversational approach works really well in podcasts
Your podcasts can (and should!) be professional and well produced, but you won’t need to write out everything you want to say. You can create an outline ahead of time to help you stay on topic, but most of the conversation will be fine unscripted. Podcasts allow you to explore a more personal and authentic communication with your listeners.
Expand Your Digital Reach
Producing your own podcasts covering a wider range of topics related to your organization (your team, other sports, lifestyle, social responsibility, etc.) will not only help you engage your fanbase in a new and fresh way, but may allow you to expand your community, reaching new listeners, who normally wouldn’t be interested in your core content.
All this can happen organically or you can advance the process with a more strategic approach, aimed at reaching a more targeted audience. Reaching new listeners with the right information or entertainment at the right time and keeping them engaged and interested – that’s one of the commandments of content marketing. Most likely, you’re already doing that with other media, so why don’t you give podcasts a try?
At this point you are probably quite enthusiastic about podcasts (I hope so!), but in case you still have some doubts, if the stats and tech trends weren’t enough, if all these numbers and logical arguments haven’t convinced you yet, there is one more thing you can do:
Grab your phone, open Spotify, or Apple Podcasts or whichever app you have, and browse for sports clubs, leagues, any kind of sports organization or sports content. There is a great variety of options for your fans to choose from, right? You’d want your organization to be there.
Podcasts are on the rise and smart sports organizations are already using them as a communication medium and as a tool for reaching their business goals. So jump on the podcast train and start recording!