Issue 174,  published August 21, 2018

SBNation bets on Philadelphia

With a mini-podcast network focused on the city’s sports franchises

SB Nation, Vox Media’s sports-focused editorial brand that’s built on a sprawling network of team-specific blogs, has established a mini-podcast network entirely around the great city of Philadelphia. The network will consist of four podcast channels — Bleeding Green Nation (covering the Eagles NFL team), Broad Street Hockey (covering the Flyers NHL team), The Good Phight (covering the Phillies MLB team), and Liberty Ballers (covering Dario Saric’s 76ers) — that, between them, will distribute twelve different shows.

Three aspects to this programming strategy worth clocking:

  • The aforementioned use of the podcast feed as an umbrella unit to house different productions within the same topical focus;
  • The initial move to bring in existing productions, some of which were outside the SB Nation family, into those podcast channels, as is the case with The Stepover podcast now being distributed through the Liberty Ballers feed;
  • A resulting publishing schedule that, powered by twelve shows, will almost stretch across an entire week.

It’s mildly interesting to observe this development in the wake of Solution Set’s analysis on Season Ticket, the Boston-focused daily sports podcast by WBUR and the Boston Globe. The bet with Season Ticket was on the possibility that the Boston sports fan diaspora, along with the national interest in Boston’s sports teams, would pull together a big enough listenership that could sustain the podcast. That gambit quite didn’t work out. The podcast ran for one season before calling it quits, citing production challenges and what turned out to be a lackluster audience size. For what it’s worth, I’m stilling hopeful on there being a feasible (and profitable) future for local podcasting — especially local sports podcasting. I still buy into the theory that sports fandom is a ravenous, vibrant, and inexhaustible driver of media consumption behavior across all forms, including local. The question, I think, is about building the right bucket.

SB Nation declared it too early to discuss its thinking around advertising and strategy when I reached out last week. Fair enough. In the meantime, I think there are two useful comps to contextualize SB Nation’s Philadelphia experiment:

  • The first is the popular independent Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast, and
  • The second is the sprawling and rough-around-the-edges Locked On podcast network, which publishes broadcast radio-quality daily podcasts around individual professional sports franchises.

On a separate note, I have doubts the Sixers will make the leap this year.