A 24-hour channel devoted solely to pro football? On satellite radio?
What was Sirius thinking?
Not even the people launching the station could be sure where it was headed. And a decade later, their dedicated listeners range from Robert Kraft to Mike Shanahan to Sean Payton. And from players on all 32 teams to truck drivers traveling the length and width of the nation.
“We were ahead of everybody,” says Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys personnel director, current NFL draft consultant — and co-host of the very first program on Sirius NFL Radio on Aug. 2, 2004. “I marvel at it. I go into the grocery store or barber shop now, and even women are telling me, ‘You said this and this and this’ on the air.
“The allure is amazing.”
The NFL’s allure seems limitless, and Channel 88 on SiriusXM — the companies merged in 2008 — has built its impressive resume on it. When Steve Cohen, the current senior vice president of sports programming, and Brandt first went on the air 10 years ago, Sirius had 500,000 subscribers. A year later, another 1 million had signed up. By 2008, SiriusXM had 18.5 million subscribers.
Now, that number has reached 26 million.
NFL Radio isn’t responsible for all of that, not by a long shot with Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey among SiriusXM personalities. But it’s among satellite radio’s leaders in caller participation and, within the NFL itself, it’s become must listening.
“SiriusXM NFL Radio attracts fans of all ages with their insight from former players and coaches and some of the most respected NFL insiders in the industry,” Patriots owner Kraft says. “I am a regular listener. I try to listen to financial reporting and timely global news when I can, but most often, I tune in to … Channel 88. It gives me the pulse of what’s going on in my favorite sport seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
Cohen actually consulted with Kraft before taking on the challenge of building the channel. Cohen’s vision for it was to have professional broadcasters team with former NFL players or executives.
“Here was the hardest thing: hiring people,” Cohen says. “They couldn’t pronounce the name and hadn’t heard of this company.”
Yet he attracted Hall of Fame running back John Riggins and future Hall of Famers Shannon Sharpe and Cris Carter to become hosts, although they no longer are on the channel. Brandt brought considerable cachet because of his wealth of inside knowledge and endless array of anecdotes.
Former Jets personnel director Pat Kirwan also signed up immediately, and he’s become perhaps the station’s most popular voice because of his skill at explaining everything from the intricacies of the zone blitz to the dynamics of the salary cap.
“When I first started, I had no radio experience, had done some TV, but I knew enough about football to talk,” says Kirwan, who has partnered with former NFL players Tim Ryan and, now, Jim Miller. “And I had a lot of notions from TV that it was not addressing the needs of the fans who wanted to grow. The football guy felt there has been more than what these announcers are telling us, because TV appeals to a general audience.”
NFL Radio wanted to appeal to everyone who follows the sport. It came up with some unique ways to do so.
Not only has SiriusXM been broadcasting all regular-season and playoff games live throughout its deal with the league, which runs through 2015, but Channel 88 has brought listeners live to the combine, the draft, and to each of the 32 training camps during the summer.
The camp trips are among the favorite endeavors for NFL Radio’s staff (55 and counting), although they got off to a rocky start.
“The training camp tour started out small, three cities, and soon it became every team every summer,” says Adam Schein, Cohen’s first hire — at age 26. “You’d fly from Seattle to Denver to the Redskins’ camp in three days. Fly to Chicago and then drive to Bourbonnais, Illinois, or to Terre Haute, Indiana, and Nashville, and Georgetown, Kentucky. You go to Saints camp in Jackson, Mississippi, and the humidity smacks you right in the face.
“We were not staying at the Ritz Carlton, either, but that was something that made it so great — it increased the bonding with the guys.”
Cohen offers a reminder that there are far more days on the calendar without any pro football games. Yet, as his boss notes, the thirst for the NFL must be quenched.
“Having every NFL game is a very significant part of what we offer,” says SiriusXM President Scott Greenstein, “but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is having SiriusXM NFL Radio on the air all day, every day, 12 months a year, feeding the appetite of NFL fans.”
For the rest of the story visit the Miami Herald where it was published
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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”
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.