Blue Wire has been making waves in the sports podcast landscape since its founding in 2018. While many of the headlines surrounding the company have involved its high-profile athlete voices, a surprising sport has spurred huge growth. Soccer is becoming a massive part of what Blue Wire is doing.
The company has athletes like Chris Long, Maxx Crosby, Richard Jefferson and Duncan Robinson currently leading channels. But its soccer podcasts -- specifically Premier League offerings -- are growing at impressive rates. Blue Wire features nine Premier League podcasts whose collective listernership has grown by 45 percent over the last six months.
Most of Blue Wire's soccer podcasts are produced from the angle of fans instead of journalists, which differentiates them content-wise. That approach clearly connecting with listeners, as soccer has become the company's third-largest vertical -- behind the NFL and NBA -- and 17 percent of its expected 150 million downloads for 2022 are expected to come from Premier League podcasts.
Shows like London Is Blue, Arsenal Vision and Fantasy Football Scout are all part of the company's push into soccer content. London is Blue is a Chelsea-centric podcast hosted by three Americans that debuted in 2014. The show has been part of Blue Wire's network since August of 2020 and has seen significant growth since that time. London Is Blue host Nick Verlaney told The Big Lead his podcast grew 120 percent from season five to six, then 70 percent last year. Another 30 percent growth is expected this season.
That growth has allowed London Is Blue to expand its offerings. "Not only has it been easier to create content, but it's easier to invest in new talent for our podcast network that we're expanding," Verlaney said. "Recently we've introduced permanent shows for Chelsea's women's team and the Chelsea youth teams, and we've introduced a tactics show."
"It's just easier to invest time and energy when you feel like there's people listening and it's getting paid back to you," Verlaney said.
Interestingly, for a show with three Americans discussing soccer, a significant chunk of the show's audience is international. "We usually are hovering around 65 percent U.S., 35 percent the rest of the world," Verlaney said. "And the rest of the world starts to break down between the U.K., Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Japan -- and India has been rising for us as well."
Blue Wire's internal numbers show 50 percent of its soccer podcast audience is U.K.-based, with 25 percent from America and the rest spread around the world. Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones told The Big Lead London and England are becoming two of the network's biggest markets thanks to the growth of its soccer offerings.
The explosion in listenership is providing opportunities for shows to continue to expand into new territory. "We'd love to get into deeper storytelling and more narrative driven audio pieces," Verlaney said. "We have big ambitions for live events some day. I think we just want to become the best holistic platform for Chelsea fans."
Jones said Blue Wire leaned heavily into Premier League content because its competitors don't have expertise in that area. Companies like Barstool, The Ringer, Volume Sports and Meadowlark Media have focused their attention elsewhere, leaving the door open.
That strategy appears to be working.