Media can be a combative business. Sometimes, when a new channel emerges, a publisher or brand thinks it has to flood the space, to own the platform, to win the game.

That isn’t a sign of a healthy ecosystem - and it isn’t the only model for media.

There is a long history of publishers coming together, forming alliances and networks. For example, today, Ozone Project and Octave show how, when publishers join forces, they can grow their audiences while making it easier for advertisers to fund quality content.

This common-good approach is the key to helping bold brands and the next generation of content creators scale together.

Content explosion

That’s why, at News Broadcasting, we just launched talkSPORT Fan Network, an easy way for advertisers to access some of the most-listened-to football podcasts.

talkSPORT’s own footprint is already impressive. Its 11 podcast shows reach almost half a million people every week, with brands like EE and Samsung using tactics like sponsorships, ads and even visualisation to reach new audiences.

But, while talkSPORT has always been known as the world’s biggest sports radio station, it isn’t the only game in town.

The last few years have seen an explosion in independent, fan-produced football podcasts and livestreams.

Many have broken out of media’s lower leagues - shows like Gooner Talk (Arsenal), Spurs Chat, Always Wolves and Misery Hunters (St Mirren) are slick, well-produced, award-winning operations, pulling large, passionate audiences.

Advertisers have taken note - UK podcast ad spend grew by 61% in 2021, according to IAB and PwC. After all, sporting teams are communities; fan content generates unique depth of knowledge and high levels of engagement.

Supporting the supporters

But, while this affinity is appealing to a brand, sifting through the burgeoning podcast landscape - where inventory is also offered by major media houses, individual pundits and others - is less appealing. With such a diverse market to understand and to negotiate with, buyers, understandably, find picking the perfect podcast punishing, while smaller broadcasters often struggle to represent their inventory in the first place.

talkSPORT Fan Network aims to change that.

It brings together a large collection of podcasts from fans of teams across the Premier League, the bottom of League 2 and the Scottish Premier League. The podcasts will benefit from greater promotion, nurturing, technology and access to talkSPORT’s ad buyers.

Those buyers will get a network that reaches hundreds of thousands of the most dedicated sports fans every week extending talkSPORT’s footprint and offering the same proven, effective formats, including sponsored host reads, pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll ads, even audience targeting and dynamic ad insertion.

When a buyer places an ad through a generic podcast ad network, they are often at the mercy of its targeting selection. But, with talkSPORT Fan Network, advertisers will know exactly where their ad appears - in some of the most engaging football inventory around.


And, while football can naturally stir strong emotions, talkSPORT Fan Network hosts sign up to terms and conditions, ensuring all content is brand-safe.

We get a great many ad agency briefs for brands wanting to reach core football fans. They can now do so through talkSPORT’s core content, as well as this new, extended footprint.

Early brands supporting the network include Amazon, BT and EE, which is spotlighting its anti-homophobia awareness campaign Hope United.

Networked thinking

Just as no-one has a monopoly on ideas, talkSPORT, of course, isn’t the first to launch a podcast network. Wondery, Gimlet and PRX have all helped boost listening and ad spend in the US. We think work like this can similarly grow UK podcast ad spending that needs to catch up to where audiences are.

Podcasts reach around a fifth of UK adults each week, but this skews higher for young people, men and ABC1s, according to Rajar.

Meanwhile, 64% of podcast listeners say they welcome and appreciate advertising in podcasts and are grateful of brands that support their shows, according to Edison Research.

The project isn’t complete. We have ambitions to grow the network to include shows on women’s football, international football and clubs outside the top leagues, extending the scale to even more passion points.

Because, unlike the game we love, business doesn’t have to be sport.

We think we have an opportunity, as a major publisher, to help everyone in media and marketing to succeed, to make media a game we can all win.