Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: The Athletic's Twitter

The Athletic, a subscription-based digital sports media company, is launching a multi-million dollar podcasting business. Over 20 exclusive, ad-free podcasts will debut behind the company's subscription paywall on its app and website on Tuesday. The podcasts will be produced in-house by a team of 12 new hires.

Why it matters: The sports podcasting space has become more crowded over the past few years, with digital upstarts like Barstool Sports, The Ringer and SB Nation, in addition to TV sports giants like Fox Sports and ESPN, all launching new podcasts. The Athletic is hoping to differentiate itself by focusing on quality, hyper-localized podcasts that live only behind a paywall.

Details: The Athletic is building a podcasting business from the ground up, launching both a front-end operation — with talent and producers to record the podcasts — as well as a back-end operation of engineers and audio specialists to manage the podcasts from the company's new podcast studio at its San Fransisco headquarters.

  • The programming strategy is to leverage The Athletic's 300+ sports reporters around the country and in Canada to create local and national podcasts, varying in topics and cadence. Most podcasts will range from 15-40 minutes long.
  • Some podcasts will focus on individual teams or cities, while others will focus on big topics, like sports and media, or the coverage of certain sports leagues.
  • The company has created several new podcasts, and has taken over the personal podcasts of some of its biggest stars. It's also begun acquiring podcasts, like "The Daily Ding" and "Birds All Day," and hopes to add more podcasts in the coming months.
  • A full list of debut programming is listed below.

The catch: The podcasts will only be available on The Athletic's owned and operated channels, and will not be accessible anywhere outside of its paywall, like on Spotify or Apple Music. The hope is that by keeping the podcasts behind a paywall, the company will be able to attract new segments of sports fans who engage with sports differently.

Yes, but: It's not a totally novel idea. SB Nation launched 32 NFL team-focused podcasts in November as a part of a bigger local podcasting push. David Locke, a radio host in Utah covering the Jazz, launched the Locked On network in 2016, which publishes hundreds of local sports podcasts weekly.

  • The Athletic is hoping that its hundreds of full-time reporters in nearly 50 local markets will set it apart.
  • "The Athletic is uniquely positioned to bring professional polish to local podcasts given our subscriber base and business model," says Alex Mather, CEO and founder of The Athletic. "Advertising dollars and local podcasts haven’t gone hand-in-hand, given local’s naturally smaller audiences. “

The big picture: The Athletic launched in 2016 as a direct-to-consumer subscription business, meaning all of its content is distributed directly to paying subscribers. It's since expanded its editorial team to include hundreds of top local and national sports reporters — talent it thinks it can leverage further via audio.

  • The news comes on the heels of the company's expansion into more local markets. In October, The Athletic raised $40 million as a part of its Series C fundraising round, which valued the company at roughly $200 million. The company says it has well over 100,000 paid subscribers.
  • "With our launch of podcasts, we have become so much more than a written-word product and we can now leverage our hundreds of local reporters to bring their unique storytelling and analysis to our subscribers in a whole new way," says Mather.

Featured shows at launch will include:

  • The Daily Ding with Dave Dufour, Big Wos, Travonne Edwards, and Zach Harper  (NBA)
  • The Opener with Jonah Keri (MLB)
  • The Breakout with Julie Stewart-Binks, Billy Jaffe, Craig Custance (NHL)
  • Birds All Day with Andrew Stoeten, Drew Fairservice (MLB)
  • Rates and Barrels with Eno Sarris, Derek Van Riper (Fantasy)
  • Warriors Plus-Minus with Marcus Thompson, Tim Kawakami (NBA)
  • Starkville with Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville (MLB)
  • Plus 15 more local podcasts in the Bay Area and Toronto (with more to come in additional markets)

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.

4 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!