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ESPN Goes Big For CFB Playoff Final

Jason Barrett

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After finding critical and production success with its “BCS Megacast” for last year’s BCS National Championship Game, ESPN has plans to super-size its coverage for the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship on Jan. 12, at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Though specific staffing plans are still being finalized, ESPN will offer multiple viewing options for what it is calling the “CFP Megacast,” the network’s biggest production to date. This upcoming Megacast will offer a different production on every ESPN television network (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line), multiple options on ESPN3, and the game coverage on ESPN Radio and ESPN International. The main broadcast will appear on ESPN.

As a reminder, ESPN used six of its television platforms last year as well as audio and digital outlets to offer viewers extra content for the Florida StateAuburnthriller. What stood out most for me — as well as ESPN execs — was the “BCS Film Room” featuring Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, Boston College coach Steve Addazio and Pitt coach Paul Chryst as well as ESPN analysts Matt Millen, Chris Spielman and (a really good) Tom Luginbill providing X-and-O analysis. It was smart television, minimally produced. It was one of the rare debut products by ESPN that produced near universal acclaim.

The Film Room will return, which is great news for X’s and O’s junkies. The network is still working out which coaches and ESPN talent will be part of the room.

• Other CFP Megacast platforms include “ESPN Voices,” which will be similar to last year’s BCS Title Talk. That platform (which played flat last year) had a rotating group of ESPN staffers discussing the game in real time.

• There will be a platform featuring only the natural sounds of the game and coverage of the halftime performances by each band.

• For the AlabamaOhio State Sugar Bowl semifinal on Thursday, ESPN will air an edition of the “Finebaum Film Room” on the SEC Network during the ESPN broadcast of the game. The program aired on the SEC Network for the Iron Bowl and featured SEC Network personality Paul Finebaum hosting his popular call-in show throughout the game, joined by SEC Network regulars. If Alabama defeats Ohio State, ESPN officials say they will consider airing an edition on the SEC Network for the title game.

• A new Megacast option with great potential: “Off the Ball” will feature former players and coaches, and current ESPN analysts, focusing on the plays away from the ball, including offensive and defensive line play, wide receiver-defensive back matchups, and coaching strategy.

• There will be a “DataCenter” featuring analytics, curated social media reaction and more.

• ESPN will have a channel called “Command Center” with enhanced statistics utilizing a split screen application with live game action and immediate replays of every play. The coverage will use the ESPN Radio broadcast call.

• There will be a platform where viewers can watch the title game from the above stadium “SpiderCam” angle.

• For those who love crowd shots, there will be a dedicated “Taco Bell Student Section” featuring a camera in the student section of each team.

One bit of staffing news for the semifinals: The following reporters will be embedded with each of the playoff teams leading up to the games: Tom Rinaldi (Oregon), Samantha Ponder (Florida State), Kaylee Hartung (Alabama), and Marty Smith (Ohio State).

Last year’s title game averaged 25.572 million viewers on ESPN, When the Megacast elements were added from ESPN2 and ESPNNEWS (the other ESPN platforms do not get rated), the game drew 26,061,000 viewers.  ESPN said WatchESPN (ESPN3) generated 773,000 unique viewers for viewers across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN3 and ESPN Goal Line collectively.

Credit to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated who originally published this article

Sports Radio News

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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Sports Radio News

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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