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Sports Fans Love Audio, Creator Funding Surges, & More

Sports Fans Love Audio, Creator Funding Surges, & More

April 19, 2024

This Week in the Business of Podcasting

Another Friday, another batch of interesting news to deliver you way. This week we have a dualogy of stories centering around sports and advertising, so put on your favorite jersey and let’s get started.

Transparency. Performance. Automation.

U.S. Creator Funding Surges, Overall Creator Funding Grows

 This Tuesday from Kaya Yurieff and Akash Pasricha at The Information: According to The Information’s Creator Economy Database, funding for U.S.-based creator startups more than doubled in the first three months of 2024, reaching almost $341 million. Notable splashes include YouTube comedy group Dude Perfect’s $100 million in growth capital. A quote from the article:

“Five of the 37 deals in the first quarter accounted for about two-thirds of total global funding. Indian audio company Pocket FM, which offers audio series similar to podcasts and serialized amateur fiction, in March said it had raised $103 million in a Series D round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. AI voice generator ElevenLabs raised $80 million at a $1.1 billion valuation in January. Passes, a Los Angeles–based subscription site for superfans, raised $40 million.”

While we’re not back at the $1.5 billion per-quarter startup investment phenomenon of 2021, venture capitalists are opening their checkbooks and voting confidence in creator-focused startups. And as Pocket FM shows, that includes areas of podcasting outside of individual shows led by influencers.

NBCUniversal On Track to Beat Olympics Advertising Records

Last Wednesday from Alyssa Meyers and Jasmine Sheena of Marketing Brew: NBCUniversal has completely sold out of both digital and linear ad inventory for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2024 Olympic games in Paris.

According to NBCU’s President of Olympic and Paralympic partnerships Dan Lovinger on a press call, so far the network has accrued $1.2 billion in ad revenue, just below the overall record for Olympic ads. While NBCU had not broken the record at the time of interview, Lovinger expressed confidence they will exceed it.

Still, the opening ceremony and closing ceremony are both booked solid. As with any major sporting event, podcasting stands as an excellent source of inventory for brands looking to get in on the action after the traditional venues sell out. Sports podcasts are growing in popularity, have open inventory, and feature passionate, engaged audiences.

A Preview of The Sports Audio Report

Speaking of engaged sports fans: this Tuesday Melissa Paris, Vice President of Sales Research & Analytics at SiriusXM Media has posted a preview of The Sports Audio Report. The new report, from SiriusXM, GroupM, and Edison Research, is built from surveys of over 3,500 Americans aged 13 and up who self-identify as sports fans (scoring themselves four or higher on a ten-point scale).

Two in three U.S. citizens aged 13+ consider themselves sports fans. And they’re big into content. 89% of sports fans say they frequently or occasionally watch sports content, while 64% listen to it. According to the report, sports audio fans average six hours and 26 minutes of audio content each day, two hours more than the average American spends listening to audio. Over 90 minutes of that 6 hours is dedicated to sports content specifically. Sports radio is the top choice for Gen X and Baby Boomer fans, while podcasts have the edge with Millennials and Gen Z.

86% of those listeners do it to stay connected to their favorite team or sport, while 58% do it to be part of a community of fans. 46% of respondents say they would be more likely to buy a product or service advertised by an athlete they like.

For respondents who specifically listen to sports podcasts, that number jumps to 68%. Over three in four sports fans have taken action after hearing an ad on a sports podcast or sports-focused audio program, and over half report having purchased a product or service as a result.

Rebecca Lavoie on Rethinking What a Successful Podcast Means

 Last Thursday Greater Public’s Nancy Rosenbaum spoke with Rebecca Lavoie, creator of Crime Writers On and New Hampshire Public Radio director of on-demand audio. On a larger scale, some public media has had to pull back from podcasting due to budgetary issues. NHPR, an independently-licensed medium-sized station, has found podcasts to be a powerful audience development tool and vehicle for broadcasting impactful journalism.

While Rosenbaum’s interview with Lavoie is specifically targeting public media, Lavoie’s advice to reframe what it means to have a “successful” podcast can easily apply to the larger industry. Another quote from Lavoie:

“How would you feel if you produced a weekly live show in a 5,000-person theater, and it was full every week? You’d be really excited and that would be considered a huge success, right?”

Even if a podcast has a small audience, it’s likely that audience is concentrated, die-hard listeners. And as studies like The Medium Moves the Message have found, podcast audiences have a tendency to react positively to make their favorite shows possible. Be it donating to a local radio station, or supporting a brand that sponsored that season’s episodes.

Quick Hits

While they may not be top story material, the articles below from this week are definitely worth your time: