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CFL Hopes For Growth With ESPN

Jason Barrett

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The CFL would love to take its new broadcasting agreement with ESPN and turn it into something even bigger down the road.

That is the reason why the league entered into an exclusive, multi-year deal with “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” late last month. One ESPN platform or another will carry every CFL game this season.

“What we are looking at is something that gives us great exposure, and what we hope for after a four- or five-year period is that we’ll be able to really build an audience with ESPN and build a U.S. audience,” CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said earlier this month.

Last year the network aired six games on ESPN2 and another package of contests on ESPN3, its digital network. Cohon said the ESPN2 matches drew approximately 300,000 viewers south of the border, and the network was happy with the results.

“The ESPN2 games did adequate in the spots we programmed them,” Gregg Morriss, ESPN’s manager of programming and acquisitions, told the Sun.

“It was more kind of an experiment to see how they would do, and they met those expectations. Now, with a little more consistency and having more ability to do more games, working directly with the league, we see some upside there.”

Cohon is shooting for the stars. ESPN was part of a new broadcasting deal with Major League Soccer in May. Three networks, including ESPN, are reportedly paying a combined $90 million per season for the MLS broadcasting rights.

“I’m not saying that we can get to an MLS-style deal, but if you look at Major League Soccer, they had similar sized audiences,” Cohon said.

“Over time, five years from now or six years from now, it would be great if this league was announcing a major deal in the U.S. with some revenues for the league.”

The current deal with ESPN is only just the beginning, as Cohon said it is netting the league only six figures. The fact every game can be seen on one network is likely the best news for the CFL, which ESPN aired often during its early days.

“We’ve had a fairly long history with the league, kind of stretching back to our inception in the early ’80s. There’s some familiarity there,” Morriss said. “And certainly the growth of the appetite for football in the U.S. is, as it’s stretched to a year-round proposition, this is really quality content for us to program in the off-season for the NFL — especially in the summer. But we also think there’s some appeal to it into the fall, and having digital networks now to be able to distribute all the games is certainly helpful in that regard.”

Morriss said the number of people watching the CFL on the digital platform of ESPN3 is not huge, but they are engaged.

“It’s not the largest audience, but they’re staying and they’re watching a lot,” Morriss said. “Now we’re just trying to find a way to get more people in that door. Once they’re in there, I think they’ll stay.”

OPPORTUNITY LOST

ESPN was going to show one CFL game on its main network this summer, but it has decided to push it back to ESPN3.

The contest was going to be Hamilton’s second home game at brand new Tim Hortons Field, on July 31 against Winnipeg, but the park isn’t ready yet, so the game is moving to McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium.

“Originally this game was scheduled to be on ESPN to showcase Hamilton’s new stadium,” ESPN said in a statement.

“But since the game has been moved to Ron Joyce Stadium, it will now be carried on ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, ESPN3. ESPN will explore opportunities to feature Hamilton’s new stadium on one of its linear TV networks later on in the season.”

For more on this story visit the Welland Tribune where it was originally published

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16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming

The news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

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Streaming Radio

According to Nielsen, sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.

The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in their latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets

The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.

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Sports Radio News

New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend

More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

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MLB Radio

When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.

In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.

Radio Listeners to MLB

Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.

Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.

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Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time

Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

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Jeff Dean Show

Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:

“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

Jeff Dean Facebook

Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”

Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.

Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.

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