FIFA teams soccer players with musicians in new podcast series

Dive Brief:

  • The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) this week launched a podcasting unit called FIFA Sound to create original audio programming in partnership with Universal Music Group for Brands. The first programming to come out of the partnership is an eight-part podcast series called “FIFA PlayOn” that brings star soccer players and musicians together, per an announcement emailed to Marketing Dive.
  • Liam Payne, the singer who rose to fame with boy band One Direction, hosts the podcast series, while sports broadcaster Jaydee Dyer is co-host. The series features star soccer players discussing key moments in their careers, and how musicians inspired them with their songs. The first episode on Jan. 13 featured a conversation between Ivan Rakitić, who plays for Sevilla Football Club in Spain, and the Colombian music group Morat.
  • As the audience for streaming audio programming grows, FIFA is taking a cross-platform approach with future episodes of “FIFA PlayOn” scheduled to appear every Wednesday on Amazon Music, Apple Music, Google Podcasts, Spotify and other streaming platforms. In addition, the soccer players will post playlists of their favorite music on Spotify, according to the announcement.

Dive Insight:

FIFA’s launch of a podcasting group in partnership with Universal Music Group for Brands aims to reach the growing audience for streamed audio programming and engage them with entertaining content. Podcasts are a portable, on-demand media format that audiences can consume on a variety of devices while doing other things, whether at home or on the go. That flexibility helps to support global growth in the audience for podcasting, which will grow from about 900 million monthly listeners in 2020 to more than 1 billion this year, according to an estimate from PwC. To reach that growing audience, marketers will expand their spending on podcast advertising by 22% a year through 2024, the firm said. Beyond advertising, a number of marketers have also embraced creating their own podcasts as a way to engage directly with an audience, build loyalty and learn more about these consumers.

The “FIFA PlayOn” series is geared for a broader audience with its pairing of star soccer players and musicians. The podcast may appeal to music fans who don’t follow soccer, and vice versa, helping to expand the potential reach of the content.

“FIFA’s vision is to make football truly global, accessible and inclusive,” Jean-François Pathy, FIFA’s director of marketing, said in a statement. “The crossover between football and music underscores this wider cultural relevance. Both are universal languages and have the power to create unrivaled emotions. It’s a natural fit to bring them together.”

With original programming like podcasts, FIFA can help to maintain interest in soccer at a time when the pandemic has put a damper on attendance of live games and concerts in many regions, as it’s too early to tell when restrictions will be lifted.

The news comes as interest in podcasting grows among digital platforms, media companies and marketers. Earlier this month, Amazon said it is buying podcasting startup Wondery to expand its content offerings, following Sirius XM’s $325 million purchase of Scripps’ Stitcher podcasting unit. On the programming side, WW, previously known as Weight Watchers, is introducing podcasts this year while last year Ben & Jerry’s developed a podcast that examines historical aspects of American racism in greater depth.

Marketers have also taken note of podcast listeners’ willingness to engage with ads in the channel. In the U.S., about half (49%) of podcast fans last year said advertising remains the most effective way to reach them, up from 37% of listeners who said the same in 2019, according to the “Super Listeners” survey by Ad Results Media, Edison Research and PodcastOne. The groups defines “super listeners” as U.S. adults who listen to at least five hours of podcasts a week. Fifty-four percent of that group said hearing an ad on a podcast makes them more likely to purchase a product, the study found.

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