The podcast, titled “No Dunks,” will be available outside the Athletic’s paywall and will feature the daily musings of the four hosts in their trademark quirky style. Before their run on TV, “The Starters” were among the first media personalities to create a podcast and eventually joined Grantland’s podcast network before creating the TV show.
“It’s definitely going to be what people know when it comes to our NBA coverage,” Elder said in an interview. “We’re getting back to our roots in podcasting and we’re going to be talking every day about games, big stories and really the hilarity of the NBA.”
The show will feature a healthy dose of the irreverence “The Starters” are known for — during NBA Summer League two years ago, the four hosts dressed as Las Vegas showgirls — as well as give the Athletic, a subscription sports website specializing in local team-by-team coverage, another platform to showcase the work of its growing stable of writers.
In addition to quirky humor, the hosts have plans to interview Athletic writers about their biggest NBA stories. “The idea is to draw from our newsroom and highlight the news from the Athletic that’s driven by people on the front lines with these teams,” said Nick Adler, the Athletic’s general manager of audio. “Adding audio makes the ecosystem that much better for subscribers.”
“The Starters” have plans for additional podcast series that would be available behind the Athletic’s paywall that could feature trivia games, mail bags and long-form interviews with local writers.
Adler said the company now has more than 100 distinct podcasts with the hopes of reaching 120 by the end of the year. Last month, the Athletic launched another free daily podcast, “The Lead,” a general interest show that focuses on a single story each episode, similar to “The Daily” from the New York Times. The format for many of its team-specific audio offerings is one free episode per week and another behind the paywall. (Episodes of “No Dunks” will include advertisements.)
“It’s about reaching a broader audience,” Adler said. “I think we see putting things outside the paywall as a way for more people to find out about the Athletic."
The deal was negotiated on behalf of “The Starters” by Creative Artists Agency representatives Matt Olson and Michael Klein. Terms allow “The Starters” to pursue a separate deal for video content, meaning they could partner with another media outlet on a rebooted TV show or simply simulcast tapings of the podcast.