The Six-Pack: North American Soccer Network’s Trevor Hayward
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed
In 2011 the North American Soccer Network was launched with a handful of podcasts covering American soccer and a few Major League Soccer teams. In a little more than a year the network hosts almost 20 shows covering a wide swath of topics and corners of our side of the soccer world. Just last month, NASN began broadcasting NASN Radio, a 24-hour soccer-specific radio station featuring their original programming and on-the-hour news.
We had a chance to talk, via e-mail, with NASN founder Trevor Heyward about the quick success of NASN, giving proper voice to American soccer, and his network's future growth. Read on.
Free Beer Movement: NASN was founded just over a year ago and already produces a network over a dozen podcasts for global and American soccer fans. What do you attribute to your explosive growth?
Trevor Hayward: I think we've been trying to fill a gap in American soccer media since the start and have been pleased to see American soccer fans react so positively. The idea from the start was always to give American soccer fans a high quality platform to hear discussion and analysis of their teams and a place for them to interact.
FBM: What is NASN Radio? How is it different for the slate of podcasts you already offer? What can we expect from NASN Radio?
TH: NASN Radio is our new 24 hour online radio channel that is available on just about every smartphone and tablet via partnerships with Stitcher Radio and TuneIn. If you tune in you'll hear shows focusing MLS and the Men's National Team, American soccer news updates at the top of each hour and live breaking news coverage seven days a week.
We currently produce at least one live broadcast Monday through Friday each week and we wanted to make our live broadcasts more accessible, particularly to mobile listeners. We also saw that many of our listeners listened to multiple NASN shows, so it was a natural progression to expand into a 24 hour radio network. Now listeners can tune in to NASN Radio and leave it on in the browser or on their mobile device and hear all their favorite shows along with our live broadcasts, all on a regular schedule.
There is no 24 hour American soccer radio channel available and I saw a great opportunity to offer American soccer fans a 24 hour radio network that they can listen to anywhere they've got a mobile connection. We've already received feedback from listeners streaming NASN Radio on their commutes to work and on their way to and from attending MLS games. These were the types of ways we envisioned our listeners using the channel and we've been overwhelmed by the feedback so far.
FBM: In the last few weeks NASN has debuted several new shows (not to mention Yanks Abroad a few months back). Tell us about a few of these new shows.
TH: Sure, I've been extremely humbled by the amount of talented people that have wanted to get involved as they see the network grow and see what we're trying to accomplish.
One of my new favorite shows is “The Big Question” hosted by Aaron Stollar. The show airs live on Thursday nights at 8PM and the show focuses on a single issue or question in American or international soccer each week with a panel of expert guests. We often get stuck in a news-reaction back and form with many of our shows and there are few opportunities to have a long-form discussion about big topics within the game.
Another new show we've rolled out is “MLS in 30” which airs on Tuesdays and Fridays. This show is focused on the very latest in Major League Soccer with the best beat writers and player interviews from around the league. I was looking to develop a show that could focus on MLS from a league-wide perspective and could focus on the the latest stories from around the league with some of the most knowledgeable beat writers.
And our most recent addition is “Seeing Red”, an established New York Red Bulls show hosted by Mark Fishkin and Dave Martinez. The show has been a fixture for New York fans, having just recently recorded it's 100th episode. I'm also particularly excited about this addition to the network because we will be debuting a post-game call-in show for fans following each of New York's remaining road games. New York fans don't currently have a post-game radio show available despite being in one of the country's largest media markets so I'm looking forward to the reaction from fans in my hometown.
|BSS… nice scarf in the background!|
FBM: NASN has had incredible success with its flagship show, the Best Soccer Show with host Jason Davis and Jared DuBois, and particularly your USMNT pre, halftime, and post-game coverage. What is it about BSS that has made the bi-weekly episodes and the US match coverage so successful?
TH: Jason and Jared are a great compliment to each other and I think that's clear when you listen to The Best Soccer Show. The show does a good job analyzing and discussing American soccer while keeping things entertaining. I think because of this the show has been able to resonate with both long time hardcore American soccer fans and those that are newer to the game. The show airs twice a week and is always up to date and we are constantly working to bring the very best guests on the show.
The USMNT coverage has been a big factor in both the show and network's growth over the last six months, fans have really responded to the coverage and the feedback and interaction has been phenomenal. The coverage again fills a gap by providing a nationally accessible Men's National Team radio show that takes viewer calls. The pre/half/post-game coverage is a fantastic way to gauge the American soccer fans thoughts on the national team, often experiencing the ups and downs of supporting the USMNT within a 2 hour period.
FBM: In a highly competitive global soccer media world what is the importance of having a network like NASN and it's distinctively “American” voices?
TH: I think it's part of the evolution of American soccer fan culture. If you go to just about any other country you've got fan call-in shows and dedicated radio/television coverage to the national team and domestic leagues. With the exception of a few markets (Houston, Kansas City, Salt Lake and Portland do particularly good jobs) there aren't many options for American soccer fans to hear their teams discussed on the radio. I think it's important to have high quality options for fans to interact and further grow the American soccer fan community.
FBM: What are the future plans for NASN? What can we expect in the next year and beyond? (Any potential for satellite radio or solely on the Internet and related apps?)
TH: I hope to continue expanding the content available across the network where possible, focusing on MLS call-in shows, and expanding our video programming, with a possibility of launching a companion 24 hour online TV network over the next year.
We've been lucky to form meaningful partnerships companies like with Ustream, iTunes, Youtube and Stitcher and hope to continue increase the visibility both of our content and American soccer through those partnerships. We will also be developing a standalone NASN mobile application over the coming months, which will make the network even more accessible.
But the main goal has and will always be be to continue improving our content and providing the high quality independent media coverage we think American soccer deserves and American soccer fans want.
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