In October, ESPN plans to launch a daily morning podcast, an audio production expected to include a mix of news coverage, trends in sports and feature stories done by ESPN’s team of reporters.
“It’s not going to be ‘SportsCenter;' it’s not news and highlights," said ESPN Executive Vice President Norby Williamson, who is overseeing the launch of “The ESPN Daily.” “It’s not three people sitting around a microphone talking, either. We want this to be elevated and highly produced.”
Williamson suggested episodes could examine in-depth reporting, such as Jeremy Schaap’s recent look at netting at Major League Baseball stadiums, or focus on a big, breaking story, such as when Kawhi Leonard picked the Los Angeles Clippers.
“The idea would be to put that signing into context,” Williamson said. “How does it affect the Clippers? How does it affect the balance of the NBA? And we have reporters — Zach Lowe, Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst, Stan Van Gundy — who could talk about that.”
Williamson’s description of the show, of which he expects to produce new episodes every weekday morning that would probably run between 18 and 25 minutes, has many elements of “The Daily,” a popular podcast from the New York Times hosted by Michael Barbaro that focuses on the news of the day with insights from Times reporters.
Williamson said ESPN is still in the process of deciding how hosting duties would work and whether there will be one host or a rotating cast. He said there are three to five internal candidates under consideration for the job, though he declined to divulge their names. An announcement is expected in the coming months. Mina Kimes, who hosts her own podcast, is one person under consideration, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
“In a perfect world, we’d have one host,” Williamson said. “But if you’re launching five days a week, we’re going to do 250 of these. So realistically is it one consistent person for the first two to three months? Or do you need more than one person? We’re not quite there yet."
"The ESPN Daily” represents the latest expansion by the network into podcasting. Don Van Natta Jr. is working on a docuseries and podcast, the documentary series “30 for 30” launched an audio version, and other ESPN journalists, such as Lowe and Bomani Jones, have their own podcasts.
It is also an effort to reach a younger audience in a growing medium. Forty-five percent of podcast listeners are between the ages of 18 and 34, according to market research firm Edison Research. Podcast ad revenue was $169 million in 2016 but is expected to reach $659 million in 2020, according to a study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.