Mike Greenberg is entering the podcast world. Tuesday saw ESPN’s Greenberg release “Episode Zero” of his new I’m Interested podcast, a six-minute clip explaining why he’s doing this and what this podcast will be. (Namely, an interview show focused on whoever he’s interviewing, with inspiration from David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction Netflix series.)
Here’s Episode Zero:
This starts with Greenberg talking about how he picked the title “because I think interesting is my favorite word” and “I tell people when they ask who I’m rooting for, what I’m rooting for, what I’m hoping happens, I always say ‘I’m in the interesting business, I need interesting things to happen in the world of sports.'” He then goes on to say that his ESPN bosses have regularly asked him about doing a podcast “and for years, my answer has been ‘I’m really not,'” because with first Mike and Mike and now Get Up, he’s had plenty of daily airtime to share his thoughts on the sports world and felt a podcast would be “redundant.” Then, around the 1:00 mark, he brings up Letterman.
“I started watching, at the beginning of this year, David Letterman’s series on Netflix, and I hope that if you haven’t seen those interviews, you will take a moment to watch them. Particularly the ones I saw with President Obama and with Jay-Z were just fantastic interviews, and Letterman is someone I’ve admired/idolized my entire life, and I thought to myself, ‘I would like to do that. I would like to choose a selection of people that I find interesting and just have a conversation with them about the things about them that interest me,’ which is basically what Letterman is doing. So I suggested that, and delightfully, the people that I work for said that sounded interesting to them too.”
Greenberg goes on to mention that this will see interviews released once a week for the next few months and that most of his guests will be from the sports world. His first guest will be former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask (currently an analyst for CBSSN and the CEO of the Big 3), and some other guests (in no particular order) this fall will include broadcaster Bob Costas (possibly about to exit from NBC, which might make that interview notable; Greenberg also mentions that “We’ll talk about the whole concept of sticking to sports, something that’s very important to him”), NBA Players’ Association executive director Michele Roberts, author Harlan Coben, Knicks’ star-turned-broadcaster Walt Frazier, Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright and more. And he describes the overall podcast as “a collection of conversations between myself and people I find interesting for the reasons that they interest me,” and says “I hope you find it interesting as well.” (He’s not kidding about “interesting” as his favorite word, and that could make for a fun/dangerous drinking game while listening to this podcast.)
Will Greenberg’s podcast be able to gain some traction in a crowded sports media landscape? Probably; he has a significant social following, and this should get some distribution plugs from ESPN and from his high-profile guests and their organizations. And the approach of focusing on interviews and guests seems like a smart one; as Greenberg notes, he already had plenty of forums for his sports opinions, so this will at least feel a little different.
And this is maybe a way for the network to get some more value out of Greenberg and his reported $6.5 million annual salary, especially with Get Up ratings not so good so far. We’ll see if the Get Up story changes with the exit of Michelle Beadle, the shortening of the show and the addition of regular revolving football analysts (to say nothing of football season starting in general and providing more to talk about), but having Greenberg do a high-profile podcast should at least provide some extra value for ESPN. (Keep in mind that this is small in the scheme of things relative to TV, though; even if the podcast does really well, they’re not paying someone over $6 million annually for a podcast.)
It also could be at least a small crossover promotion opportunity in both directions; if Greenberg has a particularly good podcast dropping, it’s not hard to see him mentioning that on that day’s Get Up, and maybe if this podcast takes off, that will get more people interested in Greenberg’s perspectives on his daily TV show. We’ll see where this goes, but to borrow from Greenberg, it will be interesting to watch.