The scale of the audio opportunity for rights holders is enormous. They have an abundance of rich content tailor-made for audio, yet current focus seems to be almost completely on digital, video and text based articles as go-to mediums for direct to fan engagement.
For most audio seems to be in the “nice to have” rather than “must have” box. But why ignore a cost-effective way to deliver rights in a format that fans want?
As Louise Johnson of FUSE pointed out on episode 173 of UP podcast on average only 18% of sports rights holder's sponsorship inventory is digital. This looks massively under underserved when you consider that most large brands are now spending at least half their marketing budget on digital marketing activity. And the reason brands are increasingly focused on digital activity is they are following their audiences as digital becomes the dominant player in their media consumption habits.
The same applies to audio.1.3 billion hours of audio are consumed each week in the UK alone with ad spend of £104m across digital audio revenue
70m of those hours are people listening to sport audio and yet, there is a lack of quality sport audio for fans to consume, particularly from official sources. These listening hours could be doubled or trebled with improved available content.
Audio also fits perfectly with future consumption trends.
The main development for consumption isn't so much around the technology although that will continue to offer new channels, its more within format. Be it audio, TV, VR whatever, the trend is towards faster and shorter. The demand from younger fans is for instant gratification; they are prepared to watch goal highlights on social media or live games on poor streams for the sake of getting what they want NOW.
Future sports fans may also not have the attention span for traditional formats (as was suggested in the Super League proposal). 90 minutes of football or 4 hours of cricket won’t be appealing to many of the younger fans. Does this require a change of game format (like The Hundred) or a change in the way that the content is distributed?
Audio is a great way to combat the attention span argument as it doesn't require the same level of focus as video. It can be an accompanying media, consumed whilst the audience engages in another activity.
Despite this fact audio is also proven to offer deeper engagement with its audience. Even as a “secondary focus” it creates larger emotional response and delivers better recall of messages than other comparable mediums. Add to this the engagement levels of audio vs video (ie. the average podcast listener will consume around 78% of a full episode) and you begin to see why those who aren’t using audio are really missing out.
It also doesn't require any specific technology - one piece of audio can already be distributed via many different platforms and devices... it can find an audience where they already are (social, radio, podcast, digital assistants, Alexa) rather than relying on them migrating to a new platform.
Rights holders could be cashing in right now by developing an audio strategy, putting audio on all their current channels, increasing fan engagement but also creating new inventory for partners.
Equally there is still huge potential for growth within longer form audio like podcasts – both evergreen documentary style content and news / magazine style content.
The US is leading the way with podcasting but the UK & Europe are not far behind.
In the US alone there are 320m hours of podcasts consumed each week - 121m of those hours are listens to sport podcasts. Brands are starting to really understand the value of the engaged podcast listener.
92% of podcast listening is done solo, with listen through rates averaging around 78% that’s a good 30+ minutes of content being consumed in most cases vs. a 1 min video on social.
And with $840m of podcast advertising revenue in the US this year and a forecast of $2.2BN by 2023 why aren’t more rights holders getting in on the act?
Sport Brands and rights holders often talk about three key elements within their content strategy:
Revenue Streams and Sponsorship Opportunities.
In audio there is already a tool that can deliver all these things and in an incredibly cost-effective way – yet many in Sport have been slow to pick up on the potential.
It’s a secret weapon and it's waiting to be unleashed.
Sophie Hind is the Managing Director of Voiceworks.ai & Voiceworks Sport
Voiceworks can deliver your audio strategy, from content production & distribution, to developing new technology channels so that you can be heard in a voice activated world.