Top 10 Most Popular Sports Podcasts in the US: The Rise of Podcasting From Viral Success to Big Business

Updated: 1553 Other

Top 10 Most Popular Sports Podcasts in the US: The Rise of Podcasting From Viral Success to Big Business
Michael Calabrese US Content Manager

Experienced sports journalist, College sports expert and broadcaster, hailing from Pennsylvania

Podcasting has not been an overnight success. The concept of repackaging television and radio shows into downloadable audio episodes took time to catch on. It wasn’t until 2014 when there was an explosion of true crime podcasts spurred on by the overnight success of “Serial.” These podcasts were original content and created the blueprint for viral success. 

🎙️💰 Podcasting has come a long way! 💥 Explosion of true crime podcasts in 2014 paved the way for viral success. 🌟 Now, podcasts are everywhere and big business. 📈 2.5 million podcasts in Apple's library alone. 🍎💼 Listeners are mainly middle to upper-class with big household incomes 💵. @Spotify acquired the Ringer for $196 million! 💸 Top ten sports podcasts in the US revealed. ⚽🏀🏈

Fast forward to today and podcasts are everywhere and they’re big business. Nearly one-fourth of all Americans get their news from podcasts. There are over 2.5 million podcasts available in Apple’s podcast library alone. And the listeners, by and large, are middle to upper-class. According to Music Strive, 45% of podcast listeners have a household income of over $250,000. This has helped some podcasters get very, very rich. For example, Spotify bought the Ringer from Bill Simmons, gaining control of dozens of podcasts in the process. The price tag? Try $196 million

With so much money on the line, it pays to have a top ten podcast in your specific vertical. When it comes to sports podcasting, competition is fierce, but the paydays are huge. By combining the real-time sports podcasts rankings from Chartable, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts we’ve been able to determine the top ten most popular sports podcasts in the United States.

The Top Ten US Sports Podcasts in 2023

Get ready to dive into the world of sports podcasts. Discover the top 10 most popular shows that dominate the US podcasting landscape including from pre-eminent US online betting site Barstool, providing the latest news, analysis, and entertainment in the world of sports. From in-depth discussions to fascinating interviews, these podcasts are a must-listen for any sports enthusiast. Join the millions of listeners and explore the dynamic and exciting world of sports podcasting.

1. Pardon My Take - Published By Barstool Sports

🎙️💥 Big Cat and PFT Commentator have created a sports podcasting empire under Barstool Sports! 🏆🗣️ With humor, great interviews, and irreverence, they've skyrocketed to the top of the charts. 📈🎲 A-list guests and huge earnings have cemented their success. 💰🔝

Big Cat and PFT Commentator have built themselves a sports podcasting juggernaut under the Barstool Sports banner. The two co-hosts combine humor, surprisingly solid interview chops, and an infectious irreverence to make for one of the most interesting sports/gambling-centric shows available. Barstool’s rise has also made A-list guests a reality for the show, taking it from garbage band status (or in their case a van) to the top of the charts. It’s been rumored that Big Cat (Dan Katz) make upwards of $180,000 per episode, making him one of the highest paid podcasters in the world.

2. The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz - Published By Dan Le Batard, Stugotz

📻🌴 Former ESPNers launched a syndicated sports talk show in Miami, making waves since 2004! 🌊🎙️ After years of success on WAXY, ESPN Radio picked them up in 2013. Now, with 358+ episodes, their spinoff podcast is a hit. 💥💰 Dan Le Batard's contract with DraftKings is ending soon, earning him a whopping $50 million for his podcast work. 🤑🎧

The former ESPNers started this syndicated sports talk show out of a studio in Miami back in 2004. It took them nine years of radio shows on WAXY in South Florida before ESPN Radio brought them on in the fall of 2013. By 2015, ESPN was simulcasting their show on ESPNU, eventually moving them to ESPNews and ESPN+. The spinoff podcast has grown in popularity over the past nine years and includes over 358 episodes to date. Dan Le Batard is nearing the end of his contract with DraftKings which agreed to pay him $50 million for three years of work on the podcast.  

3. The Bill Simmons Podcast - Published By The Ringer

🎧 Popular podcast acquired by Spotify for 💰 $196 million in 2020! Hosted by sports media veteran Bill Simmons 🏀, who previously worked at Grantland and HBO. Still going strong with other podcasts under The Ringer 🎙️. Impressive longevity and success 🌟!

Given its popularity and longevity, this is one of the most downloaded podcasts of all time. Spotify acquired this podcast and the others produced on The Ringer including “The Rewatchables” and “The Ryen Russillo Podcast” for a record sum of $196 million in 2020. Simmons continues to host his podcast, which is just the latest creative endeavor for the veteran of the sports media space. He previously served as the editor-in-chief of Grantland, hosted a weekly sports talk show on HBO called “Any Given Wednesday,” and he continues to oversee content operators at The Ringer. 

4. The Ryen Russillo Podcast - Published By The Ringer

🎙️ Former ESPN host 📻 finds success with his podcast on The Ringer! Started in 2007, hosting multiple shows and podcasts 🏀⚾️. Joined The Ringer in 2019 and continues to shine with his own podcast 🌟. Great career trajectory! 👏

Another former ESPNer makes the list. Russillo got his big break in the industry in 2007 when he hosted numerous shows on ESPN Radio including NBA Sunday, The Baseball Show, and ESPN Radio College GameDay. By 2009 he added the NBA Today Podcast to his rotation and it became an instant success. It topped out as the second-most downloaded ESPN podcast by the end of his run in 2012. He left ESPN In 2019 and joined the Ringer and has been a success since day one with his podcast. 

5. Bussin' With The Boys - Published By Barstool Sports

🏈 Former NFL players 🚍 host podcast from their converted bus! 🎙️ NFL connections bring top players, coaches, and commentators as guests. From Aaron Rodgers to Bert Kreischer, their episodes are 🔥. YouTube subscriptions at 360k and growing 📈. Keep climbing those rankings! 🌟

Another Barstool entry, this time co-hosted by two former NFL players. Taylor Lewan and Will Compton conduct their show from Nashville in a full converted bus. Their NFL connections help them secure a steady stream of players, coaches and commentators around the sport. From  football legends like Aaron Rodgers to comedy stars like Bert Kreischer their episodes are wildly unpredictable and memorable. Their YouTube subscriptions alone sit at 360,000, so there is room to grow as they climb the rankings.

6. The Lowe Post - Published By ESPN

🏀🎙️ Zach Lowe's NBA podcast showcases the game's growing popularity! 🌟 Combining stats and human interest, he interviews players, coaches, and front office staff. 📊💬 With an impressive background and Ivy League degrees, his show is evidence of the NBA's reach. Estimated to earn over $2 million/year as an ESPN content producer. 💰💼

Zach Lowe’s NBA-focused podcast illustrates how much the game has grown in terms of overall popularity. Yes, the NFL remains the top dog in American sports, but the NBA has thoughtfully grown its audience over the past decade, and “The Lowe Post” is further evidence of it’s overall reach. The two-time Ivy League graduate (Dartmouth BA, Columbia MS) weaves in modern statistical analysis with human interest stories and interviews with players, coaches, and front office staff from around the NBA. While his ESPN salary isn’t public, it’s estimated that he makes north of $2 million a year as a content producer for the World Wide Leader.

7. The MeatEater Podcast - Published By MeatEater

🦌🎧 Hosted by Steven Rinella, this hunting podcast & Netflix series is a hit! 🎥🎙️ Stories of hunting conquests, conservation, and culinary delights 🍽️🌿. A top-ranking podcast in the outdoors sports subcategory 🥇

Television personality Steven Rinella hosts the podcast and Netflix series of the same name. The weekly half-hour hunting podcast regales audiences with stories of Rinella’s hunting and fishing conquests. In addition to hunting, there are strong elements of conservation and how hunters and fishers actually benefit an ecosystem. Additionally, audiences are introduced to culinary elements as Rinella discusses eating the game he’s caught. It has entrenched itself as the number one podcast in the sports subcategory: outdoors.

8. My New Favorite Futbolista - Published by NBC Sports

⚽🎧 Exciting sixth season of the podcast! 🌟 Award-winning

Now in its sixth season, the podcast has picked up steam having won “Best Podcast Series” at both the 2022 and 2023 Cynopsis Sports Media Awards. This season, World Cup champion Meghan Klingenberg is breaking down the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. The series dives into the players of note at the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, while highlighting the causes these players are championing off the pitch.

9. Pat McAfee Show 2.0 - Published By Pat McAfee

🎙️🏈 Rising star in sports media! 💫 Former NFL punter turned podcast host and TV personality ⭐️. Landed a $30 million/year contract with FanDuel 😮. Signed a new deal with ESPN for $85 million over 5 years! 💰📝 Charismatic and successful - making more than his entire NFL career! 💪💸

To say that McAfee is a rising star within the sports media industry would be a gross understatement. The former NFL punter has taken the industry by storm, quickly becoming a household name through his podcast and appearances on live programming including ESPN’s College Gameday. His current contract with FanDuel reportedly earns McAfee $30 million per year. His new deal, inked in late May, will pay him $85 million over the next five years to appear on ESPN properties. The charismatic hype man will make more money in one year with his new deal than he did during his entire, eight-year NFL career

10. New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce - Published By Wave Sports + Entertainment

🎙️🏈 Dynamic Kelce brothers dominate with their podcast! ⚡️🔥 Mixing popular subjects with their lifelong brotherhood chemistry. 🤝 Super Bowl champions, but their podcast is making them household names! 🌟 Despite NFL commitments, their rising podcast gains momentum ⏩💥. Top five contender by year-end! 🏆📈 Exciting journey ahead! 🎉

This is what happens when you take subject matter that the public can’t get enough of and mix it with the kind of chemistry that can only be forged through a lifelong brotherhood. The Kelce brothers have Super Bowls, but you could argue that their podcast is what is really making them both household names. Both are still playing in the NFL, which makes it difficult to spin out episodes during the fall, but even with those limitations this new podcast is one of the fastest rising in the industry and could be heading for the top five by year’s end.

Methodology and Contributor Information

All of the podcast ratings data was obtained by our veteran researcher, Dan Tracey. Sources included up-to-date ratings from Chartable, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. We also referenced quotes made on the record by media executives, and third-party reporting from sources including Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Variety, Rephonic, Barstool Sports, NPR, Music Strive, Pew Research, and The article itself was written by Michael Calabrese, an editor at OLBG with over 15 years of sports journalism experience.  

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