British GQ and Universal Music test shareable podcast formats

Universal Music and Condé Nast men’s magazine British GQ are testing podcast formats that can be broken down into chunks for sharing and include images and graphics to accompany each chapter, rather than full 30-minute or hourlong shows. The idea is for people to be able to listen to bite-size chapters of audio if they don’t have time to listen to a full podcast, and share them with friends.

GQ’s first podcast, launched in October, offers sports commentary, a departure from its usual editorial fare. Called “Strike,” the weekly podcast is hosted by Elgar Johnson, GQ Style deputy editor and football aficionado. To encourage people to share the podcast more, GQ worked with podcast platform Entale, which helps edit and publish “Strike.” The podcast is divided into chapters named after each conversation topic, so users can skip to the parts they’re most interested in.

The aim is to widen GQ’s audience to include sports enthusiasts, particularly Premier League football fans, and tackle serious issues within sports, like how athletes deal with homophobia or address mental health issues. For example, Johnson said, one episode featured Jermaine Jenas, BT Sport pundit and former footballer, discussing homophobic chanting he experienced during his Premier League career. “Our aim is to reach a new audience for GQ, as well as open new doors into sport,” said Johnson. “We’re hoping to talk to people who have experienced or seen these topics of conversation firsthand.”

During each 30-minute episode, which are released each Wednesday, Johnson interviews a range of guests, including current and former footballers, sports journalists and celebrity fans, about topics like the biggest football matches in the Premier League that week or expectations for England in the 2018 World Cup.

Liverpool FC’s and Wales’ record scorer Ian Rush, East London rapper Yxng Bane and ESPN’s Arsenal correspondent Mattias Karén have all come on the podcast, which has had seven episodes to date.

Podcasts don’t tend to get shared much. GQ hopes that users’ ability to choose segments will make it more likely for them to share those sections on social platforms with friends, who will likewise be more open to listening to a conversation snippet of personal interest. GQ wouldn’t reveal specific download figures.

GQ’s podcast is called “Strike.”

Universal Music is also using a chapter-based design to test appetite for a podcast hosted by British pop rock band The Vamps. The record label is trying to build engagement through the podcast, called “How Little We Know,” with the band’s fans during its current tour. Universal Music hasn’t committed to a specific number of podcasts, but it has published two to date, both just under an hour in length. As of writing, the podcast is No. 3 on iTunes U.K. top podcast chart this week.

When the podcasts are published as web and mobile apps on the publisher’s site, there is more scope for in-depth analytics. Entale’s platform integrates with Google Analytics, so publishers can track how long people are listening, where they skip, which chapters are most popular and shared most often, as well as how much listeners interact with accompanying images and graphics.

Universal Music’s podcast is called “How Little We Know.”

Neither Universal Music nor GQ’s podcasts feature ads, but GQ wants to add them in the future. Ad options include a standard 30-second spot that can be inserted in chapter breaks and a two- to three-minute chapter that advertisers can book to be read by the podcast host — a standard option across all podcasts. The twist is that the chapters can be swapped, so a brand could have different native ads for different geographic regions or update old podcasts with new ads, for example.

Entale is developing new partnership opportunities with a dynamic audio advertising platform within its parent company, Founders Factory.

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