ESPN podcasts enjoy 32% annual download growth

May saw US media giant's productions downloaded 44.2m times.

by Tom Bassam

ESPN podcasts enjoy 32% annual download growth
  • May's podcast download figures up 11%
  • ESPN shows on track to surpass 425m downloads recorded in 2019

US sports media giant ESPN has released data showing significant growth in its podcast engagement, with downloads increasing 32 per cent year-on-year.

In May, totals provided by Rawvoice measurement show ESPN podcasts were downloaded 44.2 million times, marking the seventh month in the last eight with a total of more than 40 million. 

With April the relative down month, May’s figures rebounded with an 11 per cent increase over the previous month and a year-over-year increase of almost a third from around 33 million downloads.

Should ESPN continue to enjoy similar figures throughout 2020 its podcast download numbers would certainly eclipse the 425 million they saw in 2019.

In addition, according to figures verified by Podtrac, the average ESPN listener downloaded 8.62 podcast episodes in May, up 40 per cent year-on-year.

ESPN cited the return of sports following the coronavirus-enforced shutdown as a growth driver. The Disney-owned company singled out the Jalen & Jacoby show, hosted by retired National Basketball Association (NBA) star Jalen Rose and veteran broadcaster David Jacoby, as receiving more than two million downloads in May.

Podcasting is becoming an increasingly important part of the sports media landscape, perhaps best shown by Spotify’s recent US$200 million acquisition of The Ringer. The audio streaming platform’s purchase of Bill Simmons’ digital media company was largely made to control its popular podcast network, including the founder’s eponymous show.

In 2019 ESPN, which famously fired Simmons, saw its podcast bring in an average of six million listeners a month across its 35 original shows, as well as its adapted radio and TV productions.