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Seth Goldberg is Balancing Syracuse Sports Coverage

Tyler McComas

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How familiar does this sound: “We don’t listen to the outside noise, we’re just focused on what’s going on in that locker room.” Or about how about this one: “I don’t hear or read what’s said on the radio or in the newspaper. I don’t pay attention to that stuff.”

Odds are, you’ve heard that before in a press conference setting from a head coach or a player. But spoiler alert: It’s not always true. 

To be fair, there’s probably a few coaches out there that have never heard, nor care to hear, what you have to say about them on your radio show. Guys like Nick Saban, Bill Belichick and Greg Popovich are just a few that come to mind, but others like Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim seem to enjoy on-air banter with hosts. 

Such was the case in the summer of 2017 when Boeheim heard ESPN Syracuse host Brent Axe and producer Seth Goldberg talking about the current state of recruiting for Syracuse basketball. After the segment went to break, Boeheim called the station to give his thoughts on the subject at hand. When Goldberg answered he immediately recognized the voice.

 “Hey, can I get on the show?” said Boeheim? 

“I was 75-80 percent sure it really was him,” said Goldberg. “Honestly, I got really lucky with timing. My host was taking a break and I immediately came into studio and told him he might want to check his call screener. He looked, saw Boeheim and said he didn’t believe it. Then, he picked up the phone and they talked for a couple of minutes during the break and we were good to go. I was really confident that it was actually Boeheim, but getting to have those extra couple of minutes and for my host to verify, that was a real win.”

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Much to Goldberg’s surprise, there was no controversy the next segment between Axe and Boeheim. The conversation, in fact, was a civil one that garnered good discussion. Few things, if any, could be more relevant on your show than the head coach of the most popular team in town unexpectedly calling your show and wanting on the air.

If you have any sense as a host, you take the call, regardless what you think the end result might be. It was even more of a no-brainer for Goldberg, seeing as the call came during an empty segment during the dog days of summer. But what if there was a relevant guest already scheduled in that slot? Do you bump the guest for the head coach? Or do you tell the coach he can’t get on because the show has prior obligations? Goldberg gave his take on what might he have done in that spot. 

“On that day, I don’t think there would have been a guest, that Brent had planned for that day, that would have kept us from taking Jim Boeheim at that time he called,” said Goldberg. “If it’s another time of the year, I highly doubt there’s going to be a guest that’s going to keep us from getting Boeheim on, but it’s hard to say, seeing as I’ve never been in that situation.“

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Clearly, that’s a day in the business Goldberg will never forget and a story he’ll likely be telling several years from now. Today, you can still hear him on ESPN Syracuse, but as a co-host from noon – 2:00 p.m.  on Orange Nation. Goldberg also hosts pregame shows for Syracuse football and basketball games, as well as a Yankees baseball show during the summer. 

That’s already quite a resume for a guy who’s a 2016 grad of Syracuse and just 24 years old. But instead of building an entire story on how challenging it is to be a young host in the business, I had several random questions for Goldberg that any host, no matter the age, can use for themselves. 

TM: You and I are around the same age range, so I’m interested in what you think is the best way to connect with others in the business. Is it still email? Has it moved to social media? What do you think? 

SG: I’ve found that email is still a good way to do it. It just works. You can attach a file or a link to an e-mail, which really makes it useful.

Guys that I’ve met in the business, whether it be Syracuse alums or people that I met while I was interning elsewhere, if I want to send them a tape or something from one of my shows or a high school game I called, I email it to them. I just think email is still the easiest way to go. 

TM: As it stands, Syracuse is in the Top 15 of the College Football Playoff Rankings and now basketball season is starting. With hoops always being the biggest story in town, who’s going to get the majority of the air time?

SG: We’re still figuring out the balancing act of that. Last Tuesday night was the home opener for basketball, so we came out of the chute the next day and hit all hoops talk in hour one and then hit football in hour two. This is something we haven’t had to worry about in a long time.

I’m a recent SU graduate and my freshman and sophomore years are the last time SU went to a bowl game. I don’t remember the buzz around the football team being this big, and for good reason, with what they have going right now. It’s definitely different and it’s something we’re trying to figure out.

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As the big basketball games come, we’re going to be talking basketball. As the big football games come up, we’re going to be talking football. This week is the really interesting week, because SU is at The Garden for a big time basketball tournament, and then there’s the football game against Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. That balance is going to be really tricky and I think we’re going to listen to the listener a lot. If they call in and want to talk football, that’s what we’ll do. If they call and tweet about basketball, then that’s what we’ll do. I think we’re kind of flexible in that regard.

TM: You may not have the numbers as proof, but were September and October bigger months than normal for the station, seeing as SU football has done so well?

SG: I don’t typically get ratings or numbers like that for our station. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it certainly doesn’t put the pressure on us, as a show, to reach a certain number. I think that’s a good thing and I tend to like it. 

At the same time, it would be nice to see the proof on how much football actually helped us out, seeing as SU is as good as it’s been in a while. The only thing I can really go off of, is engagement, such as callers, text questions and tweets. And with that being said, it feels like the interaction has been up. 

TM: Since you’re in upstate New York, are you all-in on Syracuse sports, or do you often peak into what the pro teams in New York City are doing?

SG: We deal mostly with Syracuse, SU football and basketball. We’ll talk about the women’s team, here and there, their coach comes on the station. Lacrosse, we’ll talk about that when the season rolls around, but mostly its SU football and basketball.

Obviously, the NFL is king. That’s the sport that everyone wants to talk about and watch. We talk about the NFL a lot, it’s actually Bills Country up here and you’ll find a pretty even split between Bills and Giants fans. After that, the NFL has created this monster where every team has fans all over the place. It’s probably Bills and Giants as 1 and 1A and then after that, you can really talk about anybody.

As far as baseball goes, we do a baseball show on the Yankees every night during the season. NBA is a little less, we actually do more of updating what Syracuse guys are doing. If Carmelo does something, we’ll talk about it. Stuff like that more so than a specific team. 

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TM: Clearly, Syracuse is an esteemed broadcasting school. There are so many successful radio and television guys from there. Does your station see more young talent in the building than the normal small market, since there’s so many interested in the business in the same town?

SG: For me, it’s great because we get all these awesome interns. That’s actually how I started, I was in school and started working here my junior year. A couple of opportunities opened up, right place, right time and the next thing you know I’m hosting a show every day.

I know I’ve met a lot of other guys recently who have reached out to me, texted me, through Twitter, whatever, they’re interning here for a couple of months while they’re in school. It’s just been a great resource for us, like you said, SU is awesome and they pop out sports broadcasters every year, who are really well prepared and trained. It’s definitely an asset for us. 

BSM Writers

The Future Is Now, Embrace Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible.

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This week has been a reckoning for sports and its streaming future on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, ESPN+, and more.

Amazon announced that Thursday Night Football, which averaged 13 million viewers, generated the highest number of U.S. sign ups over a three hour period in the app’s history. More people in the United States subscribed to Prime during the September 15th broadcast than they did during Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday. It was also “the most watched night of primetime in Prime Video’s history,” according to Amazon executive Jay Marine. The NFL and sports in general have the power to move mountains even for some of the nation’s biggest and most successful brands.

This leads us to the conversation happening surrounding Aaron Judge’s chase for history. Judge has been in pursuit of former major leaguer Roger Maris’ record for the most home runs hit during one season in American League history.

The sports world has turned its attention to the Yankees causing national rights holders such as ESPN, Fox, and TBS to pick up extra games in hopes that they capture the moment history is made. Apple TV+ also happened to have a Yankees game scheduled for Friday night against the Red Sox right in the middle of this chase for glory.

Baseball fans have been wildin’ out at the prospects of missing the grand moment when Judge passes Maris or even the moments afterwards as Judge chases home run number 70 and tries to truly create monumental history of his own. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand has even reported there were talks between YES, MLB, and Apple to bring Michael Kay into Apple’s broadcast to call the game, allow YES Network to air its own production of the game, or allow YES Network to simulcast Apple TV+’s broadcast. In my opinion, all of this hysteria is extremely bogus.

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible. Amazon brought in NBC to help with production of TNF and if you watch the flow of the broadcast, the graphics of the broadcast, NBC personalities like Michael Smith, Al Michaels, and Terry McAuliffe make appearances on the telecast – it is very clear that the network’s imprint is all over the show.

NBC’s experience in conducting the broadcast has made the viewing experience much more seamless. Apple has also used MLB Network and its personalities for assistance in ensuring there’s no major difference between what you see on air vs. what you’re streaming.

Amazon and Apple have also decided to not hide their games behind a paywall. Since the beginning of the season, all of Apple’s games have been available free of charge. No subscription has ever been required. As long as you have an Apple device and can download Apple TV+, you can watch their MLB package this season.

Guess what? Friday’s game against the Red Sox is also available for free on your iPhone, your laptop, or your TV simply by downloading the AppleTV app. Amazon will also simulcast all Thursday Night Football games on Twitch for free. It may be a little harder or confusing to find the free options, but they are out there and they are legal and, once again, they are free.

Apple has invested $85 million into baseball, money that will go towards your team becoming better hypothetically. They’ve invested money towards creating a new kind of streaming experience. Why in the hell would they offer YES Network this game for free? There’s no better way for them to drive subscriptions to their product than by offering fans a chance at watching history on their platform.

A moment like this are the main reason Apple paid for rights in the first place. When Apple sees what the NFL has done for Amazon in just one week and coincidentally has the ability to broadcast one of the biggest moments in baseball history – it would be a terrible business decision to let viewers watch it outside of the Apple ecosystem and lose the ability to gain new fans.

It’s time for sports fans to grow up and face reality. Streaming is here to stay. 

MLB Network is another option

If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of watching the Yankees take on the Red Sox for free on Apple TV+, MLB Network will also air all of Judge’s at bats live as they are happening. In case the moment doesn’t happen on Apple TV+ on Friday night, Judge’s next games will air in full on MLB Network (Saturday), ESPN (Sunday), MLB Network again (Monday), TBS (Tuesday) and MLB Network for a third time on Wednesday. All of MLB Network’s games will be simulcast of YES Network’s local New York broadcast. It wouldn’t shock me to see Fox pick up another game next Thursday if the pursuit still maintains national interest.

Quick bites

  • One of the weirdest things about the experience of streaming sports is that you lose the desire to channel surf. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Brandon Ross of LightShed Ventures wonders if the difficulty that comes with going from app to app will help Amazon keep viewers on TNF the entire time no matter what the score of the game is. If it does, Amazon needs to work on developing programming to surround the games or start replaying the games, pre and post shows so that when you fall asleep and wake up you’re still on the same stream on Prime Video or so that coming to Prime Video for sports becomes just as much of a habit for fans as tuning in to ESPN is.
  • CNN has announced the launch of a new morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. Variety reports, “Two people familiar with plans for the show say it is likely to use big Warner Bros. properties — a visit from the cast of HBO’s Succession or sports analysis from TNT’s NBA crew — to lure eyeballs.” It’ll be interesting to see if Turner Sports becomes a cornerstone of this broadcast. Will the NBA start doing schedule releases during the show? Will a big Taylor Rooks interview debut on this show before it appears on B/R? Will the Stanley Cup or Final Four MVP do an interview on CNN’s show the morning after winning the title? Does the show do remote broadcasts from Turner’s biggest sports events throughout the year?
  • The Clippers are back on over the air television. They announced a deal with Nexstar to broadcast games on KTLA and other Nexstar owned affiliates in California. The team hasn’t reached a deal to air games on Bally Sports SoCal or Bally Sports Plus for the upcoming season. Could the Clippers pursue a solo route and start their own OTT service in time for the season? Are they talking to Apple, Amazon, or ESPN about a local streaming deal? Is Spectrum a possible destination? I think these are all possibilities but its likely that the Clippers end up back on Bally Sports since its the status quo. I just find it interesting that it has taken so long to solidify an agreement and that it wasn’t announced in conjunction with the KTLA deal. The Clippers are finally healthy this season, moving into a new arena soon, have the technology via Second Spectrum to produce immersive game casts. Maybe something is brewing?
  • ESPN’s Monday Night Football double box was a great concept. The execution sucked. Kudos to ESPN for adjusting on the fly once complaints began to lodge across social media. I think the double box works as a separate feed. ESPN2 should’ve been the home to the double box. SVP and Stanford Steve could’ve held a watch party from ESPN’s DC studio with special guests. The double box watch party on ESPN2 could’ve been interrupted whenever SVP was giving an update on games for ESPN and ABC. It would give ESPN2 a bit of a behind the scenes look at how the magic happens similarly to what MLB Tonight did last week. Credit to ESPN and the NFL for experimenting and continuing to try and give fans unique experiences.

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BSM Writers

ESPN Shows Foresight With Monday Night Football Doubleheader Timing

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7 and then 10 on their primary channel.

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The Monday Night Football doubleheader was a little bit different this time around for ESPN.

First, it came in Week 2 instead of Week 1. And then, the games were staggered 75 minutes apart on two different channels, the Titans and Bills beginning on ESPN at 7:15 PM ET and the Vikings at the Eagles starting at 8:30 PM on ABC and ESPN+. This was a departure from the usual schedule in which the games kicked off at 7:00 PM ET and then 10:00 PM ET with the latter game on the West Coast.

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7:00 PM and then 10:00 PM ET on their primary channel. That’s the typical approach, right? The NFL is the most valuable offering in all of sports and ESPN would have at least six consecutive hours of live programming without any other game to switch to.

Instead, they staggered the starts so the second game kicked off just before the first game reached halftime. They placed the games on two different channels, which risked cannibalizing their audience. Why? Well, it’s the same reason that ESPN was so excited about the last year’s Manningcast that it’s bringing it back for 10 weeks this season. ESPN is not just recognizing the reality of how their customers behave, but they’re embracing it.

Instead of hoping with everything they have that the customer stays in one place for the duration of the game, they’re recognizing the reality that they will leave and providing another product within their portfolio to be a destination when they do.

It’s the kind of experiment everyone in broadcasting should be investigating because, for all the talk about meeting the customer where they are, we still tend to be a little bit stubborn about adapting to what they do. 

Customers have more choices than ever when it comes to media consumption. First, cable networks softened the distribution advantages of broadcast networks, and now digital offerings have eroded the distribution advantages of cable networks. It’s not quite a free-for-all, but the battle for viewership is more intense, more wide open than ever because that viewer has so many options of not just when and where but how they will consume media.

Programmers have a choice in how to react to this. On the one hand, they can hold on tighter to the existing model and try to squeeze as much out of it as they can. If ESPN was thinking this way it would stack those two Monday night games one after the other just like it always has and hope like hell for a couple of close games to juice the ratings. Why would you make it impossible for your customer to watch both of these products you’ve paid so much to televise?

I’ve heard radio programmers and hosts recite take this same approach for more than 10 years now when it comes to making shows available on-demand. Why would you give your customers the option of consuming the product in a way that’s not as remunerative or in a way that is not measured?

That thinking is outdated and it is dangerous from an economic perspective because it means you’re trying to make the customer behave in your best interest by restricting their choices. And maybe that will work. Maybe they like that program enough that they’ll consume it in the way you’d prefer or maybe they decide that’s inconvenient or annoying or they decide to try something else and now this customer who would have listened to your product in an on-demand format is choosing to listen to someone else’s product entirely.

After all, you’re the only one that is restricting that customer’s choices because you’re the only one with a desire to keep your customer where he is. Everyone else is more than happy to give your customer something else. 

There’s a danger in holding on too tightly to the existing model because the tighter you squeeze, the more customers will slip through your fingers, and if you need a physical demonstration to complete this metaphor go grab a handful of sand and squeeze it hard.

Your business model is only as good as its ability to predict the behavior of your customers, and as soon as it stops doing that, you need to adjust that business model. Don’t just recognize the reality that customers today will exercise the freedom that all these media choices provide, embrace it.

Offer more products. Experiment with more ways to deliver those products. The more you attempt to dictate the terms of your customer’s engagement with your product, the more customers you’ll lose, and by accepting this you’ll open yourself to the reality that if your customer is going to leave your main offering, it’s better to have them hopping to another one of your products as opposed to leaving your network entirely.

Think in terms of depth of engagement, and breadth of experience. That’s clearly what ESPN is doing because conventional thinking would see the Manningcast as a program that competes with the main Monday Night Football broadcast, that cannibalizes it. ESPN sees it as a complimentary experience. An addition to the main broadcast, but it also has the benefit that if the customer feels compelled to jump away from the main broadcast – for whatever reason – it has another ESPN offering that they may land on.

I’ll be watching to see what ESPN decides going forward. The network will have three Monday Night Football doubleheaders beginning next year, and the game times have not been set. Will they line them up back-to-back as they had up until this year? If they do it will be a vote of confidence that its traditional programming approach that evening is still viable. But if they overlap those games going forward, it’s another sign that less is not more when it comes to giving your customers a choice in products.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: Sunday Ticket Has Problems, Marcellus Wiley Does Not

Demetri Ravanos

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On this episode of Media Noise, Demetri is joined by Brian Noe to talk about the wild year FS1’s Marcellus Wiley has had and by Garrett Searight to discuss the tumultuous present and bright future of NFL Sunday Ticket.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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