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Learning from Fortnite



We’ve all been watching the NCAA Tournament, right? What’s been your favorite story so far? Was it Loyola-Chicago making the Final Four on the prayers and international fame of Sister Jean? Was it any of the countless buzzer beaters? The story of the opening weekend, of course, was the UMBC Retrievers becoming the first ever 16-seed to beat a 1-seed with their 20-beat drubbing of the Tournament’s top team, Virginia.

After the game, Nolan Gerrity, a junior forward who logged all of two minutes in the game for the Retrievers, told reporters that the historic upset felt as good as beating Fortnite for the first time. Now, if you’re under a certain age, you got the reference and it made you smile. If you’re the average age of the guy that watches the NCAA Tournament though, chances are you probably had to Google “Fortnite,” and there’s a very real chance that, like me, first you Googled “Fortnight.”

Fortnite is a video game. Fortnite: Battle Royale is the version that the internet has lost its mind over. Up to 100 people playing across multiple platforms can join a battle. Leo Sepkowitz has a piece that went up on Bleacher Report over the weekend that details the devotion to the game among the NBA’s youngest players. A recent session of the game that featured rapper/professional fair-weather fan Drake drew over 600,000 views on the video game streaming site Twitch.

Being curious, I did some research to try and figure out not the why, but how Fortnite became so damn popular. The answer to that question, or at least my hypothesis, is something sports radio should pay attention to, because it starts with some good news.

First, and most importantly, the game is free. There’s a version you can pay for, but that’s not the version the world is obsessed with. This is the good news for us. The appeal begins with a given of terrestrial radio. We make it easy for listeners to be a part of what we do.

The next aspect of Fornite: Battle Royale’s rise in popularity worth noting is that for gamers, it is everywhere. You can play the game on the PS4, the Xbox One, your PC, and any iOs devices. Epic Games, the company responsible for Fortnite, doesn’t tell players where to go to be a part of the community. It has put Fortnite everywhere gamers are.

That is something I have told a couple of programmer friends lately when we discuss what the next evolution of content in our format is. Making good content is still the priority, but how we place that content matters just as much.

Your podcast, interviews, anything you feel is A+ material, needs to be everywhere. Tweet it out multiple times over the course of a 24 hour period. Post it to the show’s Facebook page, and then make sure every cast member shares it on their individual pages. Put it on the station website. If eyeballs or ear holes are there, your content should be there too. This is what “making it easy for listeners to be a part of what we do” looks like in the 21st century.

One of the most interesting things about the Fortnite phenomenon is that some of the game’s most dedicated players have never recorded a single kill, let alone actually won a battle. That’s because it is possible to make progress in Fortnite simply by staying alive. This isn’t a game with a payoff only for the most hardcore fans. It is an experience that is welcoming.

I have alluded to this in past pieces. When I wrote about the Winter Olympics last month, I talked about the importance of understanding the event’s place in your listener’s life. When I interviewed SiriusXM’s Taylor Zarzour last year, he mentioned how much impact simply thinking about sports from a casual fan’s point of view has had on the way he deliver’s his points.

The makers of Fortnite didn’t set out to create an unbeatable game or a game that requires you to beat people that play for 10-12 hours per day on to have fun. There isn’t much of a win in that. Don’t walk into your studio with the attitude that everyone listening knows what you know. Being the show for the hardcore sports fan may earn you cred in that circle, but it’s a pretty small circle.

Finally, Fortnite’s success has been the result of an appeal with some very famous people. When Drake posts a video of himself losing his mind over this game or Chance the Rapper tweets about the need to bring the game to the Nintendo Switch it opens this brand up to those celebrities’ fans.

Do you have to be the favorite show of every jock or coach in town? No, all you have to do is make sure every guest that comes on your show likes coming on your show. Involve them in your social media conversations before the interview. Thank them online after the interview. Most importantly, don’t bore them during the interview. Making fans out of people that have fans is one of the most important things you can do to grow your show’s audience.

I have never played Fortnite, and it is likely I never will. I am a very casual gamer at best, but as I did my research for this piece, it was very easy to see why the cult of Fortnite is so large and why it includes so many famous names.

The path the game followed to success can be duplicated by anyone. It’s not like any new ground was broken along the way. The success started with someone asking “how can we make sure the most people have the most fun?”. If you work everyday on answering that question, you will be in a better place than you were the day before.

BSM Writers

Keeping Premier League Games Shouldn’t Be A Hard Call For NBC

“Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans.”



NBC Sports is facing some tough, costly decisions that will define its sports brand for the rest of this decade.  A chance to connect with viewers in a changing climate and grow Peacock’s audience as well.  However, making the right choice is paramount to not losing to apps like Paramount+ (pun intended).

NBC is currently in the business of negotiating to continue airing the Premier League as their current deal ends after this 2021-2022 season.  NASCAR is contracted to NBC (and FOX) through the 2024 season.

NBC’s tentpole sports are the NFL and the Olympics.  

Negotiations for the EPL are expected to go down to the wire. Rather than re-up with NBC, the league is meeting with other networks to drive up the price. NBC has to then make a decision if the rights go north of $2 billion.

Should NBC spend that much on a sport that is not played in the United States? It’s not my money, but that sport continues to grow in the US.

If NBC re-ups with the Premier League, will that leave any coins in the cupboard to re-up with NASCAR? Comcast CEO Brian Roberts hinted that there might be some penny pinching as the prices continue to soar. This may have been one of the reasons that NBC did not fight to keep the National Hockey League, whose rights will be with Disney and WarnerMedia through ESPN and TNT, respectively.

“These are really hard calls,” Roberts said. “You don’t always want to prevail, and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong, but I think the sustainability of sports is a critical part of what our company does well.”

Roberts was speaking virtually at the recent Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference. He told the audience that between NBC and European network Sky, that Comcast has allocated approximately $20 billion towards these sports properties.

Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh spoke virtually at the Bank of America Securities 2021 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference and echoed that the company is in a good position to make some strong choices in the sports realm. 

“The bar is really high for us to pursue outright acquisitions of any material size,” Cavanagh added. “We got a great hand to play with what we have.”

While the European investments involve a partnership with American rival Viacom, the US market seems to have apparent limits.

Last Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway was seen by around 2.19 million people. It was the most-watched motorsports event of the weekend. That same week eight different Premier League matches saw over 1 million viewers. More than half of those matches were on subscription-based Peacock. 

Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans. A game of typical soccer fan is used to a sport that is less than two hours long. The investment in a team is one or two games a week. 

My connection to the Premier League began before the pandemic.  When I cut the cord in late 2017, I purchase Apple TV.  Setting it up, it asks you to name your favorite teams.  After clicking on the Syracuse Orange and the New Jersey Devils, I recalled that my wife has family based in London, England.  They are season ticket holders for Arsenal, and that family redefined the word “die-hard” fans.

I’ve long been a believer that sports allegiances are best when handed down by family. I love hearing stories of people loving the New York Giants because their parents liked them, and they pass it down to their children.

I’ve successfully given my allegiance to the Devils to my young daughters. 

By telling Apple TV that I liked Arsenal, I get alerts from three different apps when the “Gunners” are playing. The $4.99 is totally worth it to see Arsenal.

Whenever I told this story, I was amazed to see how many other American sports fans had a Premier League team. Students of mine at Seton Hall University rooted for Tottenham Hotspurs, while an old colleague cheers on Chelsea.

Global Is Cool': The Growing Appeal of Premier League Soccer in America
Courtesy: Morning Consult

This is not meant to say that NBC should sign the EPL on my account. The key for any US-based soccer fan is that between Bundesliga, Serie A, and other leagues, there will be no shortage of soccer available on both linear television and streaming services.

Besides, Dani Rojas did say that “Football is life.”  NBC, originator of the Ted Lasso character, should make keeping its Premier League US connection a priority.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 45



Today, Demetri is joined by Tyler McComas and Russ Heltman. Tyler pops on to talk about the big start to the college football season on TV. Russ talks about Barstool’s upfront presentation and how the business community may not see any problems in working with the brand. Plus, Demetri is optimistic about FOX Sports Radio’s new morning show.

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BSM Writers

6 Ad Categories Hotter Than Gambling For Sports Radio

“Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life.”



For years sports radio stations pushed sports gambling advertisers to early Saturday and Sunday morning. The 1-800 ads, shouting, and false claims were seedy, and some stations wouldn’t even accept the business at 5 am on Sunday.

Now, with all but ten states ready to go all in on sports gambling, sports radio stations can’t get enough of that green. Demetri Ravanos wrote about the money cannon that sports gambling has become for stations. Well, what if you are in one of those ten states where it isn’t likely to ever be legal like California or Texas? Where is your pot of gold?

A Pot of Gold Articles - Analyzing Metals
Courtesy: iStockphoto

Or, let’s face it, the more gambling ads you run, the more risk you take on that the ads will not all work as you cannibalize the audience and chase other listeners away who ARE NOT online gambling service users and never will be. So, what about you? Where is your pot of gold?

Well, let’s go Digging for Gold. 

The RAB produces the MRI-Simmons Gold Digger PROSPECTING REPORT for several radio formats. In it, they index sports radio listeners’ habits against an average of 18+ Adult. The Gold Digger report looks at areas where the index is higher than the norm – meaning the sports radio audience is more likely to use the product or service than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. The report, generated in 2020, indicates that sports radio listeners are 106% more likely to have used an online gambling site in the last thirty days. That’s impressive because the report only lists 32 activities or purchases a sports radio listener indexes higher than an average adult. I looked at those 32 higher indexes, and I think we can start looking for some gold.

Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life. The gambling companies who commit significant money to get results will continue advertising and chase the others away. So, the future of sports radio needs to include other cash cows.

If it is evident to online sports gambling services that sports radio stations are a must-buy, who else should feel that way?  I looked at the Top 32 and eliminated the media companies. ESPN, MLB/NHL/NFL networks, and others aren’t spending cash on sports radio stations they don’t own in general. But Joseph A Bank clothing, Fidelity, and Hotwire should! Here’s your PICK-6 list I pulled together that’s hotter than sports gambling:

  • Sportscard collectors, Dapper Labs, Open Sea- read about Sports NFT $.
  • Online brokerage firms-Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, Webull, TD Ameritrade
  • Golf courses, resorts, equipment, etc.- we play golf at home and vacation
  •,, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Carnival Corporation, and we’ve used Hotwire in the last year.
  • FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle-we wired or overnighted $ 
  • Jos. A. Bank,,, we went to Jos. A. Bank in last three months

The sports card/NFT market is 32% hotter than the sports betting market for sports radio listeners. Everything on the PICK-6 is at least 100% more likely to purchase than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. All listed are at or above indexing strength compared to sports betting. The individual companies I added are industry leaders. Bet on it! Email me for details. 

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