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Crowd Network launches dedicated sports division

Crowd's new hire Rob Roberts-Facey

Crowd Network, the fast growing audio-on-demand company, has launched a dedicated sports division with its own channel on the Apple podcast app.

Crowd Sports brings together the talents of existing sporting talent from the network including Tour de France champion and double Olympic gold medallist Geraint Thomas (The Geraint Thomas Cycling Club), former world boxing champion George Groves (The George Groves Boxing Club) and Tour-winning golfing folk-hero Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston (Beef’s Golf Club), with more big-name launches to follow in early 2023.

Crowd also makes the hugely successful Joe Marler Show with England rugby star Joe, which has gone past six million downloads since launching in September 2020 and recently announced a major nationwide tour after a sell-out live show at the Clapham Grand in London.

Crowd Sports establishes Crowd as the leading podcast maker in the sports industry, combining big-name stars with timeless formats and a proven track record for both growing its shows’ community of listeners and monetising all aspects of each project.

Crowd Sports works in partnerships with its stars, giving them shared ownership of a brand that can become a central component in their commercial success both during their sporting careers and afterwards. The success of the Geraint Thomas Cycling Club includes club cycling kit, off-bike wear and weekly group rides for listeners, with further merchandise launches and live shows planned.

Crowd Sports is led by Tom Fordyce, creative director at Crowd and former chief sports writer at the BBC, and Rob Roberts-Facey, who joined Crowd as Head of Sport earlier this year. Roberts-Facey was previously BBC Sport’s creative lead, while Fordyce launched and co-hosted That Peter Crouch Podcast.

The sports podcast market is growing rapidly in 2022. Spotify AB stats show a threefold growth in sports shows in the last 18 months, while Podtrac data shows a 124 per cent year-on-year increase in downloads in 2022.

Fordyce said: “We love making sports pods, and we believe we’re leading the way in this competitive sector. It’s not just the achievements of the sporting talent we work with, but how relatable they are to our listeners – and also what they want to do together. Crowd Sports means a Tour de France champion, world champion boxer and elite golfer are all part of the same team, creating shows and communities around them that are long-term projects and brands. We’re looking forward to announcing our next raft of shows and stars to Crowd Sports in the new year.”

Roberts-Facey added: “We’re seeing more and more that creators want ownership of their content, and I think that is a big part of why Crowd is such an attractive proposition to those in the industry. We focus on building shows that creators and fans can connect with, giving a proper say in the development of the show and the community that springs out of it. Ultimately, we are providing a platform that talent can develop their brands through, and reach new audiences. The launch of a dedicated sports division will enable us to push our work in the industry forward even further.”

Crowd is home to popular original shows across its other divisions too. Crowd People produces personality-led podcasts including The Sam and Billie Show which has had more than three million downloads and Go Love Yourself which is preparing for its first live theatre show in March 2023. Crowd Stories produces hit investigative podcasts including The Secret History Of Flight 149, Murder in House Two and American Vigilante, with all three reaching number one in Apple’s true crime chart. The network has recently been shortlisted in the Network of the Year category at this year’s Audio Production Awards.

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