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ESPN is going in a new direction with its upcoming basketball podcast Dunkumentaries.
The podcast is taking a more serialized approach than the cable net’s other podcasts to telling the story of the dunk, using each episode to explore its history, memorable moments, impact and future. The five-part miniseries will be released in its entirety on April 5.
To tell a longer story, ESPN Audio — the radio and podcasting arm of the cable net — turned to ESPN Films to collaborate. “We hadn’t really tried anything with longer form storytelling,” explains Traug Keller, who oversees ESPN Audio. “But we realized we have this incredible unit that does it really well in TV.”
Over the course of its five episodes, Dunkumentaries will look at the emergence of dunking in the 1960s, the first woman to dunk during a college game, Vince Carter’s 2001 dunk-contest performance and the sneakers that were created to fuel the phenomenon. Former NBA players Dee Brown and Leo Rautins will contribute to the podcast alongside SportCenter‘s Cari Champion, espnW’s Kate Fagan, ESPN Radio’s David Jacoby and reporter Ramona Shelburne. ESPN Films’ Ryan Nantell is producing.
Dunkumentaries will also feature a unique ad integration for sponsor SeatGeek that will follow a serialized, comedic story told episode-by-episode. Each will start with a 60-second preroll produced by the producers of the podcast to showcase a fan’s experience using SeatGeek.
ESPN Audio launched its first podcast in 2005, but the format has seen a boom over the last year thanks to the success of programs such as Serial and the rise of several new podcasting networks. Last year, ESPN podcasts were downloaded 366 million times, up 16 percent from 2015.
“It’s really an exciting time to be in the audio business, driven by the growth of podcasting and the creativity that can arise from it,” says Keller. “The one thing about podcasting is that it allows you to narrowcast. With broadcasting, you have to make sure you’re covering your bases to be as inclusive as possible. With podcasting, you can reach more specific audiences.”
Dunkumentaries will be released April 5 on the ESPN app, ESPN.com, espnW.com, iTunes and other podcast platforms.
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