Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News reported this morning that ESPN was nearing a new deal with Dan Le Batard, who was set to become free agent this summer. ESPN has just confirmed the news with an official press release.
Dan Le Batard and Jon “Stugotz” Weiner, hosts of the popular daytime ESPN Radio program The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz have signed multiyear agreements to remain with ESPN. The duo will continue to host their Miami-based program, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET, on ESPN Radio (and simulcast on ESPNEWS). Le Batard will also continue to co-host Highly Questionable alongside his father Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard and another of a rotating crop of guest hosts. Le Batard will also conduct six longform interviews each year that will live across multiple ESPN platforms including TV and digital. Weiner will make appearances on SportsCenter and continue hosting and guesting on other ESPN Radio shows.
Ryan Glasspiel of The Big Lead had reported earlier this year that Le Batard was considering taking his radio show to Sirius/XM, where he might have the opportunity to build out his own channel with talent he felt best complimented his show. It appears that possibility and those rumors can be put to bed.
A new deal was never a given after the exit of John Skipper writes McCarthy.
Le Batard is close friends with former ESPN president John Skipper, leading some to speculate he’d bolt after Skipper’s sudden departure in December.
A red-eyed Le Batard choked back tears on the air when he learned about Skipper’s abrupt resignation due to a substance addiction. “This person has created everything that exists here at ESPN for us,” Le Batard said. “He did it because of how he cares about minorities and their causes.”
Le Batard expressed his gratitude and excitement over the new contract in the official ESPN press release.
“ESPN has given us ridiculous freedom to have fun, and made us more popular than we deserve,” said Le Batard. “A whole lot of people have supported our nonsense in a way that isn’t always easy to support but easy to grow. As an added bonus – and we’re especially thankful for this – they also pay us.”
Weiner, very much in character as Stugotz, is only quoted as saying that he is disappointed that the new deal isn’t a lifetime contract.
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.