David Law: Taking The Tennis Podcast around the world

Why being the go-to podcast on a topic means hardcore commitment

BBC sports commentator David Law has been podcasting for over ten years, and as a tennis fan, he’s got a pretty sweet deal. Taking advantage of a gap in the podcast market at the time, Law decided to launch The Tennis Podcast in 2012 with co-host Catherine Whitaker, joined eventually by Matthew Roberts. 

Each year, they go from one of the four major international tournaments to the next, taking their podcast with them and producing daily on-site episodes from the tournament. This gruelling schedule has paid off, and since The Tennis Podcast’s launch in 2012, it now has over 35,000 listeners on a weekly basis tuning in to the podcast’s coverage of Grand Slam tournaments, discussions, and interviews around the tennis world.

Just getting over his jetlag and still recovering from covering the Australian Open tennis tournament, Law spoke to PodPod presenter Rhianna Dhillon and PodPod editor Adam Shepherd in the latest episode of the show to discuss what it’s like to record podcasts on-location, the importance of coining the right name and developing a likeable format, how he finally started making money on the podcast after having it cost his own savings for the first five years, and more.

Key Takeaways

Change your format if it’s not working 

“We had a big name guest in every single edition in 2012 and then I ran out of guests and realised, ‘Oh, okay, well now what do we do?’ I've exhausted my entire contact book,” said Law. “And [Whitaker] said we should just have a conversation about the sport every week, which is kind of what we did in part two of the show on a weekly basis and that's what it's ended up growing into.

“It’s one of those things where because we had such a small audience early on, we got to make all the mistakes that we felt we needed to make in order to get to the sort of format that we now have.”

Find the gap in the market 

“When I looked around, there were no tennis podcasts and that's why we called it The Tennis Podcast at the time,” said Law. “I also thought, by giving it that name, we better do a decent job of this because otherwise, we're selling the listener short by calling it The Tennis Podcast and so we've been obsessive, quite honestly, for the last 10 years.

“You're basically committing to a daily show every single night, no matter what time the tennis finishes.That is what we have committed to and what we make ourselves do, because that's the job. And that's what The Tennis Podcast is, it's hopefully something reliable for the listener if they just want to get up to speed with what's going on, and hopefully enjoy the conversation at the same time.”

Sometimes less is more 

[Talking about what it’s like recording on site]

“Every night, we're living together in an Airbnb and together, we go to the tournament, we go to the press conferences, we ask all the questions of the players and then we come home and we talk about it, that's basically what the show is,” said Law. “So there's minimal editing involved. It's just us having a chat for an hour, and then we produce it, we upload it and there is nobody else that we rely on for that process when we're on site.” 

Read the full transcript


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