Discoverability remains one of the biggest challenges in podcasting.
New shows attempting to break into the market face an uphill battle, with familiar names dominating the chart listings and prime promotional spots across various podcasting platforms. However, hidden gems of brilliant new content are waiting to be discovered.
In a previous article, I curated a list of the Top 10 Sports Podcasts in the market. But just as in football, those podcasting "Lionel Messi's" must stay on their toes to avoid losing their crown to the "Erling Haaland's" of the audio world.
For this updated Top 10 list, I wanted to highlight some of the best "new" sports shows that have debuted within the last 2 years, offering excellent sports content that deserves your attention.
Here are the podcasts worth checking out, along with Spotify listening links for each:
Footballers Football Podcast
BBC | Launched: Jul 22
Footballers often get panned for their lack of personality. The sport, as a whole is worse off for the boring generic post-match interviews churned out for the TV cameras come win, lose or draw. That's maybe why it's so refreshing to hear two professional footballers being truly authentic.
Michael Antoni and Callum Wilson are both entering the twilight of their careers, which is perhaps what allows them to be as candid as they often are on this BBC podcast.
This show taps into that winning combination of genuine insight and dressing room banter that made The Peter Crouch Show such a hit as Wilson and Antonio give a "players eye view" of the latest goings on on the pitch with presenter Rickie Heywood the much-needed arbiter of the pod, keeping everything on track.
Official Man City Podcast
Manchester City/Voiceworks | Launched: Apr 23
Podcasting remains a much-underused medium for official bodies in sports. With a huge focus on video for many rights holders, audio is often ignored despite its huge potential for fan engagement and revenue generation.
At Voiceworks:Sport we were delighted to work with Manchester City on the revamp and relaunch of their official podcast (available in video format within City+ and free on audio platforms).
The concept is a tried and tested one; former players, managers, celebrity fans and current stars sit down for long-form interviews providing their insight and experience on what it's like being part of the club.
What I really like about this show however, is the relationship between the two hosts; Journalist Rob Pollard is the fan in the room, representing the listener, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the club he loves and a genuine excitement to meet the guests whilst former player Nedum Onouha provides great insight on playing at the top level and brings the best out of interviewees who are instantly put at ease talking to "one of their own".
With Kyle Walker, Owen Hargreaves and Scott Carson among the early guests, the podcast has got off to a strong start and other clubs, teams and governing bodies in sport should take note!
Beef Johnson's Golf Club
Crowd Network | Launched: Sept 22
Beef Johnson is one of the biggest characters in golf with a huge cult following and so it made perfect sense for him to make the move into podcasting. The masterstroke (excuse the pun) with this podcast is the teaming up of the golfing superstar with comedian, keen amateur golfer and podcasting royalty John Robins to create some genuine laugh-out-loud moments alongside the sporting insight.
Rather than a blow-by-blow account of the sport itself and the latest from the course, this podcast follows a similar format to "That Peter Crouch Show" (the team behind this pod also created that show for the BBC) in which it tackles a different golfing topic in each episode often with special guests brought in to keep the content fresh.
The key to this show is a feeling of fun and inclusivity. The Crowd Network really understand the value of creating communities around their podcasts (they've done it very successfully with previous shows such as Joe Marler and Geraint Thomas) and they've adopted that format here too. Listeners are "Members" of the world's most inclusive club with exclusive merchandise and listener Q&As among the tools used to deepen audience engagement.
Stak | Launched: Aug 22
Remember the early days of Alan Partridge as the sports reporter on Chris Morris' The Day Today? There is something very reminiscent of that classic character in the comedy/sport podcast Sports Horn.
Like Partridge this show is a lovely pastiche of the sport broadcasting genre with a particular focus on sports radio. In each episode we join the Ian Fiveankles Breakfast Show - which will feel far too familiar to listeners of a certain national sport radio station.
From the dubious "laddie" audio production to the dubious "laddie" banter, it's beautifully-observed content and often only slightly less ridiculous than the genre of a programme that it's sending up.
One of the "Proper Football Men" in the world.
Listen here via Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/11SBXcEPH0wdJgBFi9Uzy4?si=d13e47b08a17435e
The Moment of Truth
Launched: Jun 22
Sometimes the BBC does something that only the BBC could do and reminds us all why we pay the licence fee... 'The Moment of Truth' falls into that ballpark.
With the kind of investment, production values and research that we've come to expect from the big US podcasting networks, The Moment of Truth gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life at the sharp end of football management as it follows Rotherham and Oxford United's attempt to gain promotion from League One to the Championship (and the industrial language that goes alongside it).
This is a different level of insight to the Amazon "All or Nothing" documentaries. Far grittier than the sparkly training grounds of City and Spurs, this show not only reveals so much about football at the lower levels but it's also a brilliantly immersive audio experience. I often found myself shrinking into my shirt whilst listening to a both-barrels berating from Rotherham boss Paul Warne.
90% of the sports podcast market is talk based, either interview or debate based on performances/games/events. This is a great example of how producers can, and should, sometimes think outside that box.
Row Z Football Podcast
Joe Forester | Launched Jun 21
This is a football podcast that's not really about football.
Whilst the sport is the loose thread that holds the show together it's more about the characters on the podcast than the knowledge or insight that they have about the game.
This is a podcast that has the "feel" of a traditional breakfast radio show with stories about the teams lives, in-jokes and banter as the cornerstones of the content. You get the feeling that, ultimately, the podcast could be about any topic and would still have the same charm.
A show for which its audience returns not to hear WHAT topics are being talked about, but HOW the team are talking about it.
Listen here via Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/5WnwXKws6hD9c12OPY9dCu?si=807cf1dab44c4ad3
Away From Home
The Athletic | Launched: Nov 22
I've become a bit of a Ukraine War podcast junkie over the last 12 months. The BBC's Ukrainecast and John Sweeney's "Taking On Putin" are a particular highlight of my audio diet along with this effort from The Athletic. This podcast follows Shakhtar Donetsk and their attempts to maintain "Business as Normal" despite Russia's invasion of their homeland meaning they are unable to play any games at their own stadium. Adam Crafton and Joe D'Urso spend time with the team and using first person interviews and actuality they tell a story that is part football, part geo-political conflict and part human interest.
It's a fantastically put-together and well-crafted podcast which goes so much deeper than the sport itself.
The Athletic has developed a reputation for great football storytelling and it's nice to see one of their podcasts that reflects those brand values much more than much of the audio content within their slate.
Listen here via Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/5laT8p7zK9ot2gO20HLdPg?si=974525e082d0491e
Storylines: The Women's Cricket Show
The Analyst | Launched: May 23
It's been a long time coming but it feels like women's sport is experiencing something of a renaissance right now.
The success of the Lionesses in the Women's World Cup has jump-started a level of interest across multiple sports, and podcasting has a huge role to play in growing and nurturing those audiences, especially away from the major competition spikes.
Simon Hughes (The Analyst Cricket Podcast) has identified the opportunity to establish a new show focused on the women's side of the sport and has enlisted players Melissa Story (hence Storylines) and Nikki Chaudhuri to front the podcast.
The show follows the well-established and respected format of its older brother with great interviews, in-depth analysis and top-level insight. It deserves to become a cornerstone of the coverage around the women's game.
Listen here via Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6PDaTpTcYIpVUVuBBNyHQd?si=5a5e3f0659f44931
Sports Strangest Crimes
BBC | Launched: Jun 21
Vanilla Ice hosting a podcast about the disappearance of Shergar sounds like an idea that should be filed alongside the like of Monkey Tennis... but somehow it works.
Yup, Ice is back with a brand new invention and this time it's dipping into his passion for horse racing (who knew?) and looking back at one of the sport's biggest crimes in the first series of this ongoing thread.
Whilst the inclusion of Ice (real name Robin Van Winkle) adds a novelty and a charm to this podcast it is, at its heart, a well-told compelling story with the production values you would expect from a BBC production.
This show thread is a smart move by the Beeb, combining two of podcastings biggest genres in True Crime and Sport. Now in its fourth series and having covered Cricket, F1 and Football, there is a nice variety of stories to binge and add a different texture to your sports podcast diet.
Listen here via Spotify: Fit and Proper
Goalhanger Podcasts | Launched: Nov 22
Goalhanger has a fast-developing reputation for creating hit shows but it's a surprise, given their beginnings and major benefactor (Gary Lineker) that, to date, they've tended to steer away from Sport.
But with History (The Rest is History) and Politics (The Rest is Politics) boxed off it was time for them to focus on the beautiful game with a new show (sadly not called The Rest is Football).
'Fit and Proper' is a format-first podcast with one central question at its heart:
"What would you do if you owned your own football club?".
The direction the podcast takes largely depends on the guests and varies from insightful to comedic (mostly the latter). A stellar lineup for guests with strong podcast followings (Ed Gamble, Ellis James, Alex Horne) has secured some good early attention and it's well deserved.
The format really works and prompts the listener to "play along" with the "game" whilst host Lloyd Griffith and Rhys James have great repartee between themselves and the guest owners. Listen here via Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1q880qj4WbZiPDyEX1EdOa?si=d6592b0542964863 Jim Salveson is the Director of Sport for Voiceworks and the Sports Social Network.