Back in January, wide layoffs at SB Nation parent Vox Media (seven percent of all staffers) also saw the company shut down many of its team-specific sites and end relationships with many podcasts, even those from non-shuttered sites. A lot of those sites have since gone independent, or struck deals with other companies. And there’s now some interesting news on that second front for a few of the NBA podcasts, with three of them signing licensing deals for advertising sales and network inclusion with Blue Wire.
Those three podcasts heading to Blue Wire are Lakers Lounge (Los Angeles Lakers) with Anthony Irwin, Green with Envy (Boston Celtics) featuring Will Weir, Greg Maneikis, and Adam Taylor, and Pod Maverick (Dallas Mavericks, formerly the Mavs Moneyball podcast) with Kirk Henderson. Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones spoke to AA via phone about those deals last week, and said a desire to expand Blue Wire’s NBA coverage was key to these moves, as was the past work of these hosts.
“The NBA, first of all, is becoming very strong for us,” Jones said. “And these are all also hosts who pump out a lot of volume. And that’s what we’re looking for these days, committed hosts in big markets.”
Those hosts were able to negotiate ownership of their existing intellectual property with the podcasts, including the RSS feeds, in their exits from Vox. Thus, those who already subscribe will continue to get these podcasts the same way they always have. Jones said that was critical to making this work given how hard it is to launch a new podcast in the current crowded environment.
“All these shows have a track record, and they were able to negotiate ownership of the RSS feed, so they’re bringing that with them,” he said. “Launching something new is challenging in 2023, more challenging than it was in 2019. The space is more crowded. And you’re still on people’s phones; the people who subscribe and have connected to you, you want to remain connected and delivering episodes to them.”
He said feed ownership and IP ownership is vital for Blue Wire overall, and helps them stand out amongst podcast monetization companies.
“At the end of the day, it’s that simple. And it’s a huge advantage. Almost all of our podcasters own their own IP and brought their IP to Blue Wire, that is our separator. We’re not launching much from scratch these days.”
Jones said he expects IP ownership to continue to get more and more important, and Blue Wire’s focus on boosting creators who own their own podcasts rather than launching a slew of in-house podcasts differentiates them there.
“We think this is the future, five to 10 years from now, and it’s already heading that way. Creators are getting smarter, and from Day One, they want to own their own content. And no one is really helping them grow their own content, so Blue Wire can be the leader in this category, which can range from an athlete like Richard Jefferson (Road Trippin’ With Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye) to a Mavericks’ podcaster (Henderson with Pod Maverick) to even FuboTV, just monetizing their podcasts. All of our competitors are making IP factories; we’re looking to do something larger, to build a network, with the best existing owners and operators of content in sports.”
And he said the appeal for those ex-SB Nation podcast creators, and others, in joining Blue Wire is the scale (they have more than 300 shows these days) and existing advertiser relationships the company can use to get ads and dollars for those podcasts.
“Because we’re curating like-minded sports content and have developed advertiser relationships over our four years, we are able to put their podcasts in a brighter light with advertisers than they can do on their own. There are podcasters who upload on Anchor or other sites and get programmatic revenue, but we do more than that; we sell sponsorships for certain shows, and we promise more than you could get independently for most shows. Our strength is podcast ad sales. And we try to continue to deliver there because that’s a really scalable solution, and a hard solution for people to do by themselves.”