Mar 10, 2021 - Sports

New York Times' star NBA reporter looks to bring social audio boom to sports

a series of sports balls with headphones over them

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Marc Stein, the New York Times' star NBA reporter, has partnered with Locker Room to create live audio content, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Locker Room, Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and other social audio apps have surged in popularity during the pandemic, leading some to believe the future of social networks might be audio.

  • Stein's partnership with Locker Room is a seminal moment for the emerging medium, which is more live than a podcast, more accessible than sports radio and more casual than a livestream.

How it works: Social audio apps allow users to host virtual rooms and join live conversations.

  • Upon entering a room, the audio switches on and you can hear people on the "stage" speaking. You can also see who else is in the audience.
  • The room's creator, plus any designated hosts, control who speaks. Listeners request to speak when they have something to say and hosts can call them up on stage.
  • Unlike Clubhouse, Locker Room has a chat room where text-based discussion can happen in tandem with the audio-based conversation.

What they're saying: I spoke with Stein about the future of social audio, his partnership with Locker Room and how he plans to use the app.

  • On social audio: "Audio is evolving in fascinating ways. ... Fans have been calling into radio shows forever, but this is a totally new genre. The host and the audience have never been able to hang out like this without being rushed. I see it as the old chats of yesteryear springing back to life in audio form."
  • On the fit with Locker Room: "Locker Room has quickly become synonymous with sports in this space, and I've seen (and heard) several of my colleagues on the app. Now it's my turn to give it a whirl, expand my audio game and have some fun."
  • On his content plans: "The goal is to do it on Wednesdays and Fridays, often at night when games are happening, in part because I think the consistency of when the rooms are happening is important."
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