ESPN: Making Money from Podcasting

by David Spark on September 29, 2009

This interview is part of my series “Making Money from Podcasting” (read summary “9 Successful Techniques for Making Money from Podcasting”) where I interview podcasters who are actually generating revenue from their podcasts. There are many techniques, and here’s one person’s tale of how his company is making money from podcasting.

Marc Horine, VP of Digital Media at ESPN

Marc Horine, VP of Digital Media at ESPN

Build your own media network of programming and sell advertising against it

ESPN PodcenterMarc Horine is the VP of Digital Media at ESPN, the ubiquitous sports network that has built up more than 100 podcasts (about 75 audio and 25 video). ESPN was one of the first media companies that got into podcasting in the summer of 2005, said Horine. In those early days, their podcasts began as a “best of” ESPN radio shows and some other repurposed content. Demand for additional content soon morphed into a full blown podcast network of shows, many of which are original content, separate from ESPN Radio programming.

Interview (Time: 15:12)

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ESPN’s presence is impressive with a full blown ESPN Podcenter hub on, a featured podcast provider button on iTunes, along with a page to display all their podcasts.

ESPN Podcenter on iTunes

All of this content is categorized and sold to sponsors. They do pre-roll and post-roll advertisements. While pre-rolls are hugely popular for advertisers because they’re guaranteed listens, post-roll ads don’t do nearly as well. According to Matt Cutler CMO at Visible Measures, twenty percent of the people don’t watch a video all the way to the end (see my short video interview with Cutler on this subject). When I asked Horine that question he didn’t offer up any statistics but rather explained that sports fans are a unique and passionate bunch and he believes they listen to shows all the way to the end. While he didn’t have any statistics in front of him, he didn’t think his listeners fell into the “quit and run” viewing/listening category.

BS Report on ESPN, sponsored by Subway, iTunes iconSponsor branding can go beyond just a pre-roll and a post-roll. ESPN can offer a completely integrated ad experience as they do with their sponsor Subway who has ads in podcasts, on the ESPN site, and also in iTunes on the ESPN Podcenter page where podcast sponsorship can be seen in the icons for the specific shows.

ESPN works with the ad insertion company Ando Media to place all the podcast ads. Ando Media delivers detailed reports to ESPN and their advertisers.

Sell an iPhone application along with your podcast

Two weeks ago ESPN launched a podcast iPhone application ($2.99) that has been incredibly successful. It’s currently the fifth best selling paid iPhone application. The application has scores, live streaming, breaking news, and access to about 40 podcasts all within the application. Stats of usage are showing that people are gravitating most towards the live stream. That’s bad news for the satellite radio industry where ESPN also has a presence. But once you have a live radio stream on an iPhone with a 3G network, there’s no need for satellite radio. Access to radio programming far exceeds what any satellite network can provide. Horine described a colleague who drove the two hours from New York to Bristol (ESPN’s headquarters) listening to the live stream the entire way, and it never cut out. And that’s on the AT&T network! And we all know how much that sucks.

The success of the iPhone application flies in the face of a massive ESPN flop, the ESPN phone which back in February of 2006 was selling for the ludicrous price of $499 at launch, dropping down to $99 two months later. It appears this new iPhone app along with ESPN’s other sub-$5 iPhone applications offer all the same capabilities as the ESPN phone did, but they’re doing it a lot better, and obviously with a much more reasonable and digestible price.

For more, listen to my interview with Horine as we talk about the success of the iPhone app and what works and what doesn’t for advertisers on their podcast network.

More episodes of “Making Money from Podcasting”

  • Never Not Funny (Technique: “Partial show for free – full show paid”)
  • Personal Life Media (Technique: “Build your own media network of programming and sell advertising against it”)
  • Pregtastic (Technique: “Get your own sponsors”)
  • Elsie’s Yoga Class (Technique: “Sell an iPhone application along with your podcast”)
  • Mac OS Ken (Technique: “Give away five shows for free, make them pay for the sixth”)
  • Alaska HDTV (Technique: “Get your own sponsors”)
  • Duct Tape Marketing (Technique: “Build your brand to sell your services”)
  • ScreenCastsOnline (Technique: “Give away every other episode. Make them pay for the rest.”)
  • Izzy Video (Technique: “Give away every other episode. Make them pay for the rest.”)
  • Slate Gabfests (Technique: “Integrating sponsorship with the show’s editorial”)
  • Wizzard Media (Technique: “Got audience? We’ll get you sponsors. Or, get sponsors on your own and we’ll insert the ads” PLUS “Sell an iPhone application along with your podcast”)
  • (Technique: “Build an audience and sell premium podcasts”)
  • Manager Tools (Technique: “Build your brand to sell your services”)
  • Mevio (Technique: “Motivate your audience”)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

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