Podcasts

Get in the Game—and Reach Fans—All Year with Sports Podcasts

MaryKate Breslin, Senior Manager, Market ResearchFeb 12, 2024

From offering the play-by-play when screens aren’t available to next-day commentary from analysts, sports fans and audio go way back. And in recent years, podcasts have come along to strengthen and expand the connection. With a +39% upswing in the demand for sports podcast content since 2019, it’s clear that podcasts offer a valuable, unmatched experience for sports fans.

Podcasts FTW On, Off, and Every Season

The sports podcast phenomenon is fueled by a dynamic blend of commentary, thoughtful analysis, and rich narratives that captivate audiences. Podcasts transcend the limitations of traditional media by creating pathways for advertisers to reach a captive audience of sports fans pre-game, post-game, pre-season, in-season, and, most notably, off-season.

Sports Podcasts Attract the Real Fans 

Sports podcast content is exploding—growing 15% on Simplecast in 2022, but not as fast as consumption, with a 119% increase in downloads the same year. The genre has undeniably reached new heights through its extensive, on-demand catalog of content, themes, and formats—not to mention the synergy between sports fans and podcast listeners.

And while many people who watch sports may do so incidentally (we’re looking at you, Swifties), sports genre podcast listeners are engaged fans. In fact, 94% of sports podcast listeners identify as a sports fan.

Invested in the Content… and Everything Else

Sports podcast fans are emotionally, financially, and physically committed to their passion, staying connected and engaged through an array of activities. Whether it’s following their dream team on social media, rooting for the home team from the bleachers, or sporting team merch around town, sports podcast listeners are truly devout fans. 

Check out what sports podcast fans have been up to in the last 12 months:

  • 74%: Visited or used sports websites

  • 73%: Searched for sports news, scores, or game recaps

  • 69%: Followed a sports team on social media

  • 67%: Purchased sports apparel or clothing

  • 55%: Attended a professional sports game

Podcasts Give Fans What They Want: More Sports

Podcasts have earned the first-round draft pick for entertainment among sports fans through their ability to create an engaging and enriched listening experience, redefining how fanatics engage with the world of sports. Over four in 10 sports podcast fans listen because they provide in-depth analysis and highlights, diverse perspectives and unique insights, and/or better sports commentary than other media platforms.

More Opportunities for Brands

Real sports fans know, it’s not all about the big games… but it’s also not not. And as the competition and excitement of each season pitches up, peaks, and enters the record books, podcasts are there for fans every step of the way, giving brands more opportunities to reach this engaged audience.

For example, 92% of sports podcast listeners say they’ve watched the Super Bowl every year or most years, which presents the perfect moment for brands to leverage podcasts as an extension of their campaign with the option of adopting a pre-game or post-game strategy.

  • 60% of podcast listeners saying they enjoy the snacks and food at a viewing party, brands can influence menu decisions leading up to the big game (we’re looking at you, CPG, retail, QSR, and alcohol advertisers).

  • 37% of sports podcast listeners say they usually place a wager or bet on the Super Bowl (we see you, sportsbook and fantasy sports advertisers)

  • One in three say their favorite part of the big game is the halftime show (hello auto, telecom, financial services, travel, entertainment, and tech advertisers).

Sports Podcast Listeners Feel Connected to Hosts  

Half of sports podcast listeners say they consume sports podcasts because of the in-depth discussions, insider perspectives, and behind-the-scenes interviews. Like the bond between player and coach, the host and listener have a deep connection that’s unrivaled when compared to other media platforms. From professional athletes, to sports analysts and industry insiders, to emerging “regular joe” talent, podcast hosts have carved out their own unique space within the sports media landscape. 

The Host-Listener Connection is the MVP

Podcast ads allow brands to tap into the powerful host-listener relationship in a way that is both authentic and effective. After hearing a podcast ad, over five in ten sports podcast listeners visited the brand’s website or researched a product online. And nearly four in ten listeners purchased the product online or in store.

The opportunities with podcasts for brands goes further than host-read and announcer-read ads. Three in four sports podcast fans say they’d be interested in listening to a podcast produced by a sports-related advertiser. So, this is your friendly reminder to tap into the most trusted and influential voices in the game, who carry an undefeated record when it comes to authentically integrating brand messaging. 

Here's how sports podcast fans want brands to show up in the space:

  • Collaborate: 43% want brands to collaborate with the host(s) to produce video podcasts to create a more immersive experience 

  • Offer exclusives: 42% want exclusive promotions and discount codes that are only announced on the podcast

  • Bonus content: Over four in ten want brands to collaborate with the host(s) to create themed content, special episodes, and mini-series

Check the Scorecard

An auto marketplace advertiser drove significant lifts across key brand metrics with the SiriusXM Podcast Network. The campaign incorporated show-level ads on sports podcast Talk is Jericho and scaled across the network with announcer-read ads to reach sports fans 18 and older through contextual targeting based on subject matter and demographic targeting based on lifestyle and demographic attributes. 

This campaign was a perfect match for the advertiser, engaging and motivating listeners across the marketing funnel.

Always-On for Every Fan

As the popularity of sports podcasts continues to grow, there are endless opportunities for advertisers to capitalize on the dynamic podcast medium. With enhanced brand visibility and a highly engaged and receptive audience, your brand campaign is guaranteed to be a home run, slam dunk, touchdown, or hole-in-one. Let’s talk.

Sources

  • 1.

    Nielsen Podcasting Today, August 2023; Based on Monthly Listeners of the Sports Podcast Genre from May 2019 to May 2023

  • 2.

    Simplecast internal data

  • 3.

    SiriusXM Media Custom Survey, DISQO, January 2024. N= 423 Sports Podcast Listeners P18+

  • 4.

    Nielsen PAE+ Brand Lift Study, Q2-Q3 2022. Lifts shown are statistically significant at 90% confidence interval

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