Reacting to the growth of audio and changes to podcast consumption

Reacting to the growth of audio and changes to podcast consumption

Eleven years ago, our CEO Niall Coen started a Tottenham podcast. Our flagship football website, Football FanCast, was born as a result and then, from there, Snack Media was founded. The rest is history.

However, Podcasts were new and unknown back then, but it created an opportunity for something much bigger, and that’s what many podcast and content creators are seeing today.

Podcasts are now in vogue. Almost everyone has one, or has been on one, and some have become lucrative money makers for their creators.

Snack Media’s early adoption of the podcast led the company on a different path, but there are some of its original productions still running now. Chelsea FanCast and Wolves FanCast are still going strong today, with thousands of
subscribers and regular listeners on a weekly basis.

Now, we’re trying to go back to our roots. At the beginning of the current football season we decided to launch the Fixture in Focus podcast, which is an attempt at offering football fans something different in a saturated market of football podcasts.

The feeling was that while everyone else offers general football discussion, we would focus on one specific fixture each week and go in to far more detail than if we were talking about everything and everyone.

The concept is good and innovative, but the execution has been far from easy. Getting ourselves seen and heard has been a real challenge, as it soon became clear that while fans are always on the lookout for new and interesting
content, they’ll always have their go-to content creators to turn to when they need it. The battle has been to become the go-to football podcast for these fans.

It’s still learning process, though, and as we discover new user traits and receive feedback, we’re trying to react accordingly. But while the likes of The Football Ramble, Totally Football Show and Spanish Football Podcast have become the leading podcasts in our space with a loyal following, it’s important to remember that we must offer something different in order to get fans’ attention. Therefore, content is not necessarily the issue. It’s the way in which we deliver this content that will matter most.

The Guardian has become a real leader in the podcast market in recent years, with 10 active podcasts operating across several genres. Their decision to launch a 25-minute daily news podcast called “Today in Focus” was a game changer for them, with daily listens growing fivefold since launch and audience figures up 30 per cent month-on-month, as of March 2019.

Podcast platform Acast announced that in 2018, there were 230 million listens to daily news podcasts on its network, with 6 million of those coming from the UK. That’s 6 million pairs of ears we want to be talking to.

The numbers suggest that while podcasts are generally anywhere up to an hour in length, shorter and more easily consumable audio content is what the public wants more of.

This is backed up, in part, by the rise of voice activated technology and the increased popularity in products like Amazon Echo and Google Home. People want quick and easy content and ideally without having to go out of their way
to get it.

We have already made moves to address this via the introduction of SpeechKit technology on one of our other football websites – Football Transfer Tavern. Readers now have the option to listen to the article they want to read. While it’s too early to make a decision on whether this is a game changer in terms of innovative content delivery, the early signs are encouraging.

Given what the market is saying and how our competitors are behaving, adapting our content to better serve our existing audience and for us to reach fresh eyes and ears is now our priority as we begin planning for the 2019/20 football season.

Author: James Jones, Deputy Head of Content at Snack Media. For more information please email jamesj@snack-media.com