Sports broadcaster and The Final Word podcast co-host Adam Collins used to work as a political advisor for former Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan. When he decided to change his career he told Mediaweek it wasn’t one huge leap from politics to sport.
The move into sport has been something of a success with the podcast and hosting duties on SEN keeping Collins busy.
“When politics ended for me, I had done some writing about cricket. I wrote an essay for Swan about the 80 years since the bodyline series. I linked it to Australian Republicanism, and it did well in the opinion pages of some newspapers.
“That gave me a little bit of confidence that post-politics I could have an involvement in writing. That manifested itself in cricket as I was writing about what I knew. I had played cricket my whole life and it was my passion.”
After Labor lost the 2013 election, Collins was in his late 20s. “After writing a successful piece on cricketer George Bailey for the ABC, I was given a column for the duration of the 2013-14 Ashes series.
“I still wasn’t brave enough to go full-time though. What changed things was meeting Geoff Lemon in 2014 at a function for the Australian Cricket Media Association at the Sydney Ashes Test.
“Geoff had been doing his alternative sofa-based commentary for the India series. We then did something similar for an Australia-Pakistan series. That was when I thought I could make a go of this cricket thing. In hindsight, I should have just pulled the band-aid off straight away and had a crack.”
Collins spent a year working in superannuation while writing about cricket on the side before diving into his media career.
Those first media years were a mix of writing, broadcasting and podcasting.
“My podcasting colleague Geoff Lemon and I are essentially working for ourselves and have been doing so since 2015 when the podcast started. 2018 was a turning point when we bought the Australian radio rights for Australia in Pakistan. That gave us an opportunity to expand what we were doing as a podcast.”
Two key ingredients for their podcast have been quality and quantity. “We make as much as we can so people can rely on us and also to hold ourselves to account. We have now made over 900 episodes of the podcast.
Many of those 900 episodes are daily podcasts published during test match cricket. “The idea for a daily came from the 2018 football World Cup. I was following the competition via a podcast from Russia and I thought something similar could work during the 2019 Cricket World Cup.”
It did work and Collins and Lemon reckon they have covered just about every Austrian or English test cricket match since 2019. “Almost every women’s test match too with a few exceptions.”
The Final Word was on hand with a daily podcast during Australia’s victorious 2023 World Cup campaign in India. They will also cover the men’s T20 World Cup later in 2024.
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The Final Word
With the podcast’s focus on Australian and British cricket, Collins said they have a big UK audience. “We think that 90% of our audience is either in Australia or England. How the audience splits between the two depends on what we are covering.”
Like many podcasts, episodes of The Last Word are also available on YouTube. “A lot of the audience comes from YouTube in India because there is free data for users and the audience uses it like a TV station. When we cover an Indian series our YouTube numbers go through the roof.”
With the global audience in mind, Collins added: “When talking about Australia we never use ‘we’ or ‘us’. It is always done with a healthy dispassionate journalistic distance. We are fans of the game, we are not barracking for Australia, but for the best result.”
Sports Social Podcast Network
Automated advertising on The Final Word is handled by Sports Social Podcast Network. “When listeners hear a 30-second spot that is sold by them,” said Collins.
“Geoff and I have commercial relationships with organisations we talk about. In the case of the current summer that is Cbus Super, Westfield London and Stratford City. Our charitable partner is youth cricket and disability sport charity Lord’s Taverners.”
The Final Word business model has evolved like others have. Dollars come from diverse sources including donations via Patreon, YouTube views, inserted ads, live shows and sponsorship.
“We have had two recent live shows. One in Melbourne with Glenn Maxwell and in Sydney with Michael Bevan. “They don’t form a huge part of our overall revenue, but it is a great opportunity to bring together our listeners who can gather and spend time together.
“We have over 700 people on Patreon. With more people supporting us financially we decided to introduce our weekend show Story Time. We have now recorded 166 of them. We spend as much time preparing them as we do anything.”
“I’m a good fit for SEN,” said Collins when asked about covering cricket for the national sports radio network run by sports fans. “The listeners drawn to those broadcasts are very passionate sports fans. I’ve been able to sit next to some of the best at what they do including Simon Katich, Ian Smith, Damien Fleming and Chris Rogers. Also Jeremy Coney who pound for pound might be the best-ever cricket analyst. Daniel Norcross is perhaps the best radio ball-by-ball commentator in the world. Geoff has worked with us on SEN too in Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as England.
“We’ve done 43 test matches in the last three years for SEN. It comes with support from [CEO] Craig Hutchison who supports Test cricket across the board, at home and abroad.”
Collins is a proud family man and was recently in Australia with his wife and two daughters. But they have a husband and father who travels regularly for cricket. Collins slots in every available minute with the family.
He was married during the 2023 Ashes tour. Because of a busy schedule, Collins had carefully planned the date.
“The day before the Lord’s test was the only day I identified as the only time that might work for the wedding during a busy English summer. The Ashes test was starting on June 27. I had proposed during an Australian visit in 2022. I knew even back then when the date of the wedding would be. My wife has been incredibly supportive of what I have had to do with travel and being away from home. When I’m home I make sure I’m really home and I work from home as much as I can.”