It’s almost time for this year’s BSM Summit (February 21-22). While looking at the impressive list of guests that will be taking part in the event, I wondered what I didn’t know about these people. What are some of the things that make them tick? What are they passionate about? What’s something unique about them?
I asked a number of people associated with the event to provide some unique facts about themselves that might not be commonly known. My thought is that although we recognize these names based on job titles, we might not know something interesting about who they are as people. It’s safe to say the results did not disappoint.
The unique assortment of fun facts range from scholarly and profound, to eclectic and hilarious. Both ends of the spectrum are enjoyable and very memorable. What stands out to me is that there is much more to these people than what happens inside the four walls at work. I hope you enjoy this piece and learn some fun details about this talented group.
Joe Fortenbaugh – 95.7 The Game, San Francisco
I’m a huge nerd. I focus on process rather than result, which is one of the reasons why I love to do research. And I’m not just talking about sports and sports betting research, I’m talking about whatever strikes me as interesting. Right now, I’m knees deep in researching the Cuban Missile Crisis and French wines.
Don’t ask me why my brain functions the way that it does, because I don’t have a good answer. I just so happen to stumble into something that I find interesting and then I relentlessly immerse myself in that subject matter. Recent research projects include stoicism and the decision-making process. Like I alluded to, I have no idea why my brain chooses to function in the manner in which it does.
Ramona Shelburne – ESPN
One thing that most people don’t know about me was that I was very political growing up. When most kids dressed up as princesses or their favorite movie character for Halloween, I dressed up as George Bush or Gorbachev! I wanted nothing more than to be CJ Cregg from the West Wing. I was a funny little kid.
Clay Travis – FOX Sports Radio
I went to Civil War sleepaway camp at Gettysburg College in high school. Yes, I really am a big history nerd.
Ryan Hatch – Arizona Sports 98.7
When I was 16 years old, I put together an interview reel with famous coaches and players on a cheap tape recorder from Radio Shack and used it to get my foot in the door for an internship at the first sports radio station in Salt Lake City. It took more than three months to get the interviews scheduled and another three months to eventually convince them to break their intern policy and give a high school kid a chance. I’m also a golf junky and an avid reader. My favorite book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.
Colin Cowherd – FOX Sports Radio / FOX Sports 1
I’ve lived in six states (Nevada, California, Oregon, Connecticut, Florida, Washington). I’m one of the very few sportscasters to have lived in all four corners of the country. I’ve also been to 49 of the 50 US states. The only state I haven’t visited is South Carolina. I don’t have plans as of now to see it.
Don Martin – FOX Sports Radio
I am an avid international traveler and history buff. I have traveled to six of the seven continents of the world (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America). The only one left is Antarctica. As Program Director of 850 KOA in Denver we won five consecutive Station of the Year Awards and two Marconi Awards!
Jim Graci – 93.7 The Fan, Pittsburgh
Radio has afforded me many ancillary opportunities. I was thrilled to have done public address announcing in the NBA for 14 seasons, four with the Atlanta Hawks and two stints with the Seattle SuperSonics totaling 10 seasons.
It was during that first stint with the Sonics that I was asked to be in an episode of the television show “Frasier”. I played both the public address and broadcast announcer for an episode in season three, “Head Games”. I had multiple lines of dialogue, received guest star status, but in typical radio fashion, was not on camera. It was just my voice.
Jeff Rickard – 1070 / 107.5 The Fan, Indianapolis
I have either raced or ridden my bike over seven of the 10 highest, paved mountain peaks in the United States including Trail Ridge Road, Mt. Evans and Mt. Haleakalā.
I don’t like hot dogs or mustard and I’m allergic to shellfish, but I could eat great Italian or Mexican food forever (specifically fettuccine Alfredo). Lucky Charms is a frequent middle of the night meal, but Captain Crunch will do in a pinch.
The Denver Broncos are my favorite team in all of sports but I hate the “new” helmets and logo. John Elway the general manager makes me miss John Elway the quarterback.
Dan Zampillo – ESPN LA 710
I love hockey! I know it’s not the biggest radio sport in most markets, but I think it is an incredible sport. Plus, I’ve gotten to hold the Stanley Cup multiple times.
I really enjoy American history, especially the Civil War and presidential elections. My favorite food is deep-dish pizza (I know, cliché Chicago, but it is the best). I have kids, so I have no hobbies anymore. My favorite movie is The Bridge in the River Kwai. My favorite TV shows are The Americans, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, and Atlanta.
My first sports memory was watching Italy winning the 1982 World Cup with my Italian grandfather. I have watched the final out of the Cubs World Series win no less than 168 times on YouTube. One of my sports goals is to witness a no-hitter in person. The night of Justin Verlander’s first no-hitter, I gave away tickets so I could go on a date with a girl. Needless to say, I missed my best chance, and the date was awful. Double whammy.
Eric Johnson – 97.5 The Fanatic, Philadelphia
I like to do a lot of running and have participated in 10-mile runs and 1/2 marathons. I’m currently training for “The Seneca7,” which is a 77-mile, seven-person relay race around Seneca Lake in New York.
Steve Mason – ESPN LA 710
I’m known for my broadcasting career, but for 25 years, I owned movie theaters in Southern California. I owned theaters in Hawthorne, Azusa and at USC. My most recent theater was Cinemas Palme d’Or in Palm Desert, CA.
While operating in Palm Desert, partner Bryan Cranston and I were victims of a practice known as circuit dealing by Cinemark Theaters. Essentially, Cinemark “blocked” the Palme d’Or from playing first run film. After 13 years of litigation, in April of 2017, the company won a major antitrust lawsuit in a jury trial against Cinemark. That marked the end of my movie theater operator days.
Scott Shapiro – FOX Sports Radio
One big interest of mine, which is very rare for folks as into sports as I am, is my interest in Broadway. And when I see shows I like, I can’t get enough. I’ve seen Hamilton let’s just say north of five times. I really shouldn’t share the actual number of times I’ve seen it since my credibility and level of sanity will be significantly questioned. I’ve also seen shows such as Les Mis, Phantom, Rent, and Jersey Boys more than four times each as well.
Steve Wyche – NFL Network
I’m a big wine enthusiast. Wine is not made to be tasted. It is made be enjoyed. Also, a huge interest of mine is to one day possibly write a book about airport and airplane behavior. Why do some people use speaker mode to have a conversation in the seating area, then berate the gate agent for not being upgraded despite having platinum status, then put their bare feet on the bulkhead wall before clipping their nails at 30,000 feet?
Julie Stewart-Binks – ESPN LA 710
I was in a unique situation this year, which afforded me an opportunity to explore other interests outside of sports. I decided to pursue stand-up comedy. It’s not something I ever thought I would do, but having been immersed in improv comedy at Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York this year, and having experience in performance through TV and radio, I thought this might be a fun extra curricular. I’m also somewhat of an adrenaline junkie.
I’ve become extremely interested in the different ways of writing and performing to elicit and evoke emotions — in some ways it’s a formula, in others it’s completely random. I’ve never been challenged both mentally and physically like I have been doing stand-up. It’s really the most vulnerable thing you could possibly do. But there is no greater high than making a room of strangers laugh. You feel like the Incredible Hulk, and all you want is the next laugh. It’s addictive.
Demetri Ravanos – Barrett Sports Media
I have a film degree from the University of Alabama, which is like having a degree in tropical studies from the University of Alaska. My only two true sports loves are ‘Bama and the Boston Celtics. I was a freshman when Shaun Alexander was a senior, so he will always be my favorite player. Before I made the switch to sports, I worked exclusively in rock radio for 18 years. I used to write and host a podcast about the Disney theme parks.
When I was 11, I was at a basketball camp at the University of South Alabama where Charles Barkley showed up for a day and did a Q&A. I saw him tell another 11-year-old to “quit being a pain in the ass.” I own as many shirts with the Golden Girls on them as I do the Alabama logo. My favorite episode of the Golden Girls is the one where Blanche dreams her husband faked his death.
Amanda Gifford – ESPN
I am a proud graduate of Penn State where I have a bachelor’s of journalism degree and also a bachelor’s of science in elementary education. I started working in radio when I was 16 years old at a very small station in upstate NY where I did everything — morning news in the summer, commercial voice overs, ran the board for NASCAR races…everything…but when I went to college I thought I wanted a “normal” schedule for my career.
Always having a love for working with kids, I started in college as an education major. About halfway through my sophomore year I got some sense in my head and decided I really wanted to work in sports. I was too far in to my education classes to just change majors, so I added the journalism major and graduated with both degrees in 4 ½ years. I have never used my teaching degree because I came to ESPN right after college, but it is always a good backup plan!
Brian Long – XTRA Sports 1360, San Diego
I am originally from Kansas City so I am cursed with being a long-suffering Chiefs fan. As a teenager I began playing the drums and ultimately dreamed of being a professional musician. However, I figured out rather quickly there are “real musicians,” then there was me. I moved to Palm Springs in 1997 and took up playing golf. Today, I play the drums like a golfer and golf like a drummer.
Traug Keller – ESPN
I have another job — been chairman of Mustard Seed for over a decade now. It’s near and dear to my heart, started by a priest friend of mine from Boston College. You can get a sense of the org at mustardseed.com.
John Ireland – ESPN LA 710
I can sing any song from The Sound of Music (either the male or female part). I can name at least one dive restaurant in any US major city, from Boston to San Diego. I’m convinced that the all-time Lakers team could beat any All-Star team you could assemble from all of the other 29 teams combined. Magic and Kobe at guards, Kareem at center, Elgin Baylor and LeBron at forwards. The bench would include Wilt Chamberlin, Shaq, Jerry West, James Worthy, Karl Malone, Gail Goodrich, Jamaal Wilkes and Bob McAdoo.
Brian Musburger – VSiN
I have been the Underwater Camera Assistant for the Ironman World Championships for the last 12 years. I scuba dive beneath the starting line for the greatest endurance race in sports every year in Kona, Hawaii.
Bruce Gilbert – Cumulus Media / Westwood One
It is becoming more and more common that people know that Mike Thomas is my real blood brother, but what a lot of people don’t know is that we both have an older sister, Becky, that has been an on-air talent for over 20 years on small market stations in Central Illinois.
Becky did mornings on 101 Country, WHPO for over 20 years. She then took some time off before becoming the PM Drive talent at Classic Hits 95.9 WIQI in Watseka, IL, which is her current position. Becky is the oldest sibling in our family and she completes the trifecta for my father. My dad was in the radio business and all three of his kids have made it their career.
Becky is a true entertainer in every sense of the word. She has a HUGE personality, a tremendous sense of humor and — most importantly — she gives a damn about EVERY listener that has ever tuned into her show. She really cares about people and has raised millions of dollars through her show for St. Jude and other great charitable organizations.
Our Thanksgiving dinners have often been spent talking promotions and sales packages, much to our mother’s chagrin.
Phil Mackey – SKOR North, Minneapolis
Back in 2009, I co-founded what’s now the Mid-States Poker Tour, and remain a major supporter and fan of the poker industry. My favorite starting hand in Texas Hold ‘Em is Jack-10 suited.
Tony Bruno – The Tony Bruno Show
When I’m not watching sports, my guilty pleasure shows are on Science Channel and watching people build cabins in rain and snow in Alaska while complaining about how much the weather sucks in Alaska. Home improvement is my strength, but only on my home, not busting up kitchen cabinets in some stranger’s joint.
Justin Craig – ESPN
So in thinking about what makes me, me would be my recent infatuation with running. In the past few years I’ve racked up almost a dozen half marathons and completed my first NY marathon. Why? Great question. Although since I’ve been doing them, I’ve fallen in love with pushing myself to train for something, see it through, aiming to increase my personal bests and more importantly…to live longer.
Selfishly, I look better in pictures actually having a neck back again. Even more rewarding is being able to run with two of my best friends, even though we aren’t in the same cities, we continue to plan on runs that we can see each other at, therefore pushing the training to a different level. Throw in the added benefit of just this past fall when my son and nephew asked me if I would run a 5K with them, and the reward is through the roof.
(Oh yeah, and it’s a great chance to catch up on listening to shows and podcasts. Seriously, I listened to a live stream of the network when I was running the full marathon! Who knew cursing out bad transitions and sloppy teases could be so motivating!)
Adam Klug – 97.3 The Fan, San Diego
In the last 9 years, I’ve lived and worked in five different states: Georgia, Connecticut, California, New Jersey and New York. I have made four long-distance moves since 2010: from Georgia to Connecticut in 2010. From Connecticut to California in 2012. From California to New Jersey (lived in New Jersey, worked in New York) in 2014. From New Jersey to California in 2018. My wife has made each move with me. Both of my kids were born in New Jersey and made the most recent move to San Diego.
Mike Thomas – 98.5 The Sports Hub, Boston
At a Mötley Crüe after party in Dayton, Ohio…I noticed Tommy Lee was being very affectionate with Carmen Electra (who is from Cincinnati). Tommy was still with Pamela Anderson at the time. It wasn’t long after the sex tape came out. I went on our rock morning show in Dayton the next day and talked about what was happening. It went national — (not viral, that wasn’t a thing back then). Rick Dees called me and had me come on his show for “Dees Sleaze”. I ended up in the National Enquirer the next week!
Jorge Sedano – ESPN LA 710
At least 3-4 times a week, I take an hour to just walk on the beach — just good quiet time. After 40, I’ve realized I can no longer play pick-up basketball. I feel like an old loser. My favorite shows are The Daily Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Beyond the entertainment, I marvel at the formats and execution of the shows. My favorite sports movie is Major League. I’m forever a sucker for good pizza and a bottle of wine. It’s why I’ll never achieve my goal of a two-pack. (I’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell at a four- or six-pack.)
Mitch Rosen – 670 The Score, Chicago
My first full-time job was an overnight producer at WGN Radio in Chicago for a legendary host, Eddie Schwartz. I worked 12am-5am. Best job I ever had as I learned how to book, manage high-ego talent, and work with all departments. I was traded with Eddie from WGN to the legendary LOOP. It was the best career move I ever made. I have been a self-proclaimed radio geek since 7th grade and followed my dream since then. A lot of people are not aware that I worked at WTKU for its launch and was part of the team that hired RuPaul to do mornings. The station went from worst to first in one book. I’m also very involved with Special Olympics Chicago and serve on the board of directors.
Brian Noe – NBC Sports Northwest, Rip City Radio, Portland / FOX Sports Radio
Might as well include myself, right? I’ve played guitar for half of my life. I used to play in a heavy metal band in LA and have performed at the Whiskey. Although metal is my favorite, my minor in college was classical guitar. I played a handful of classical pieces during my sister’s wedding. When a classical piece ended too soon while playing in my good friend J’s wedding, I played the middle part of “To Live Is To Die” by Metallica. It worked well in a pinch.
One of the most random facts about me is that I keep a stuffed animal in my computer bag when doing radio shows. It’s a little bear wearing a karate outfit that was a family gift named Tae-Kwon-Noe. I tossed him in my bag many years ago so I didn’t feel alone while performing away from home. That sound you hear is my street cred grinding to a screeching halt, but I really don’t care. That’s my little homie and he reminds me of my family who I love dearly.
Does Mark Cuban See a Bubble That is About to Burst in Sports Media?
“The now-former Shark Tank star has a good track record of identifying the ideal time to bail.”
America’s top professional and college sports leagues have been living on easy street for the last ten years. Whenever their broadcast rights come up for negotiations, the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, the SEC and the Big Ten have been able to count on a line of bidders eager to get in on the action.
That party may be close to over though. Amin Elhassan of Meadowlark Media said last week that Mark Cuban may be the first to see it and that is why he is ready to sell off his majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks.
“That whole streaming money that everyone’s been talking about for years, like, ‘oh, when this next TV deal is up, it doesn’t even matter if Disney and Turner aren’t ponying up.’ ‘Oh, Amazon and Netflix are going to come in and just dump billions of dollars,’” he told co-host Charlotte Wilder on their Oddball podcast. “That’s not been the case. So I think Mark Cuban’s looking and he’s saying, ‘oh, this is the bubble and the bubble is about to burst.’”
He then pointed out that everyone in the NBA should be concerned if Cuban is the one with that vision. The now-former Shark Tank star has a good track record of identifying the ideal time to bail.
“He founded this thing called Broadcast.com,” Elhassan explained. “They pioneered the technology that allows people to stream video on the Internet. The reason why you’re able to watch anything on your phone, tablet or computer is because Mark Cuban and the company that he founded. He founded it and he sold it and within a few months, the dot com bubble crashed and that he made out like a bandit and everybody else was like Pets.com. ‘Ahhhh! We broke!’ So I definitely to me, it feels like the ship be sinking and ‘let me get off before everyone starts to figure it out and clamor.’”
Now, it should be noted that Cuban was recently asked about keeping the Mavericks a family business and passing control of the franchise down to his kids one day.
“I wouldn’t put them through it,” he said on a recent edition of All the Smoke. He then went on to explain that team owners need to court investments from real estate developers.
“That’s where the money is going be coming from potentially,” citing expensive real estate deals like the ones to get new areas for the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers.
It’s very possible that Cuban doesn’t see the single majority shareholder model as a viable way to own and run a team anymore. It’s also possible he just wants to enjoy being rich and not have as many responsibilities. It was on that same episode of All the Smoke that the 65-year-old revealed his time on ABC’s reality show Shark Tank is coming to an end.
But this is a sports media site. We pour over rights deals and potential deals looking for justification or game changing strategy. Let’s dive into the idea that Cuban sees a bubble that is about to burst.
If Amin Elhassan is right, and that is indeed how Cuban feels, he is not alone. 97.1 The Ticket’s Mike Valenti said the same thing earlier this year, although his prediction was less about the demand diminishing and more about customer dissatisfaction with the product.
Valenti’s point is that leagues’ rights will not hold their value if the streamers and networks they sell to make it hard for fans to see the games. The NFL is putting playoff games behind a paywall. Regular season action in Major League Baseball, the NHL, and college sports are already there.
Puck News founder and former editor of The Hollywood Reporter Matthew Belloni disagrees. He told me that the willingness to allow some big games to be streaming exclusives actually makes a league’s rights more valuable to media companies in 2023.
“There’s a big push in the entire streaming industry right now to raise profits, even at the expense of growing subscriber numbers and usage,” he told me via email. “Using premium sports, the top driver of subscription and engagement, to increase profitability, makes perfect sense. All these games *should* be behind a paywall. Thats where they will benefit their broadcaster most, even if the leagues might want greater accessibility.”
Cuban and other owners are yet to settle on new broadcast deals for the NBA. Commissioner Adam Silver may have been overly optimistic in insisting that the league could triple its current revenue in its next TV rights deals, but he and team owners have been willing and eager to look at new revenue streams and more modern broadcast deals in order to help them get there.
Still, it’s hard not to think about two outlets when it comes to the NBA on TV – ESPN and TNT. Maybe other networks will get involved in the bidding, but at this point, it is hard to picture a world where those outlets and ABC are not airing NBA games.
Do Disney’s plans for the future of ESPN inch us closer to a bubble bursting for media rights deals? If the network will be a streaming product by 2025, will Bob Iger and Jimmy Pitaro be more conservative with what they are willing to spend money on and how much they are willing to pay?
I asked Belloni if he expected the company’s projections for what ESPN can generate as a streaming product are more likely to make it less agressive with the NBA and other rights deals in the short term.
“It’s not a question of aggressive vs frugal, it’s what does Disney need to compete in sports,” he said. “Iger has said he wants ESPN to be available on streaming by 2025, which isn’t that far away.”
He added that it doesn’t mean that competition stops. Other networks and streamers want in on the NBA. There are major commitments to the NFL, the SEC and others that Disney has to honor as well. Iger and Pitaro are not going to let those get away. They have to sustain the brand’s value no matter what form the network takes.
“Renewing top tier rights like the NBA will be key to that push because ESPN will be an expensive product, but he also should expect less revenue in the short term because making ESPN available digitally will exacerbate cord cutting,” Belloni said. “Hence why he is looking for a deep-pocketed partner to invest in ESPN and help defray the costs of those rights packages.”
Amin Elhassan is an incredibly smart guy. He didn’t simply see Cuban’s sale announced and jumped to the conclusion that a rights bubble is about to burst and he did a great job of explaining that.
He did leave out the part about who is buying Cuban’s stake in the Mavericks and what she plans to do with it.
Miriam Adelson is a Republican mega donor and widow of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation built three resorts in Las Vegas and seven other properties across Asia.
Sports gambling has become a right versus left issue in Texas, with Republicans coming down on the side of “ain’t gonna happen.” Adelson’s investment in the Mavericks is said to include plans for an entertainment and casino complex near Dallas.
Mark Cuban may be “down to Earth for a billionaire,” but he is still a billionaire obsessed with his public image. Remember how furious he was with Draymond Green in 2017 when the Warriors’ star said that the term “team owner” invoked the unpleasant idea of one person owning another? Cuban is not completely abandoning the team. He will continue to run basketball operations in Dallas. If he really saw a rights bubble that was about to burst, it seems more likely that he would want to put as much distance as possible between himself and the perceived failure.
This deal is not about Cuban’s projections for sports media’s future. It is about Miriam Adelson recognizing an opportunity to wield political influence and add a few billion to her net worth.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at [email protected].
As Sports Radio Leaders Prepare for 2024, Ask Yourself This One Question
Constantly, the leaders of major brands will say: “We’re not in the radio business, we’re in the content business.” But if you’re leaving out one entire area of content, are your words hollow?
I love reading, listening, watching, and consuming anything I can about our industry. But as sports radio continues to weather some uncertainty, I wonder why some of the things I hear leaders of our industry preach.
Constantly, the leaders of major brands will say: “We’re not in the radio business, we’re in the content business.” But if you’re leaving out one entire area of content, are your words hollow?
For the amount of content sports radio creates, we don’t do a great job embracing digital video, which I will never understand.
There are some sports stations and shows that simply don’t have to worry about this topic, because their shows are already airing on cable TV, right? The Michael Kay Show, Boomer & Gio, Felger & Mazz, The Best Show Ever?, and I could go on, all air on some form of traditional television outlet. But the rest of you? What are you doing?
Whether you’re a Market Manager, Sales Manager, Operations Manager, Program Director/Brand Manager, Host, or Producer, as you make your preparations for 2024, the one question you should be asking is: Do we have a digital video strategy?
If the answer is yes, congratulations. That’s awesome. Now, what platforms are you prioritizing? If your answer is no, ask yourself: why not?
There’s a harsh truth that comes with what I’m about to say, that isn’t popular with old-school radio programmers. But truth is like poetry, and most people f—ing hate poetry. If you’re not on YouTube or Twitch, you likely don’t exist to anyone under the age of 25. And if you look at the first number in your target demo, that age matters.
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. You aren’t likely to utter the words “Google doesn’t matter”, right? Then why in the world would you argue — as someone who’s in the content business — that the world’s largest content platform doesn’t matter? It does! It absolutely does! And yet, so many stations don’t have even the slightest idea that they should take the dozen or so hours of fresh, original, can’t-get-anywhere-else content they produce and put it on YouTube.
Think of YouTube from your own perspective. How many times a week do you go to YouTube for literally anything? Several? Now, how often do you think people younger than you are using the platform? All the time. Literally, every day. The research that we all rely on for so many things will punch you in the face with the facts that younger audiences are using YouTube more and more frequently.
Digital video is everything radio loves: it’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s an extra revenue source. Heck, the platforms are free to publish your stuff! It is as easy as it’s ever been to make killer-looking video.
The cost to start streaming your shows is unbelievably low for what the potential revenue can make up in return. If you don’t have a sales team that would be eager to go out and try to sell a shiny new product, then you’ve got bigger problems than digital video. But I’d bet you dollars to donuts that if you walked into the sales meeting and said “Hey, we’ve got a cool new product to offer. We’re streaming the shows on YouTube now, and we’ve got the ability to showcase (X) amount of sponsors in graphics, in product placement, in video commercials. Who wants in?”, you’d be hard pressed to not find that elusive 13th month of ad dollars.
Can’t monetize it with ads? Fine, do what ESPN Cleveland does and start a subscription service and put your video shows behind a paywall and make money that way.
Apprehensive about starting? Afraid the quality won’t be up to your standards? You might be right. But you have to start somewhere. And taking that first step is the most important one.
All digital video does is enhance your product. While Don La Greca’s “ED…BLEEPIN’….KRANEPOOL” rant is one of my favorite moments in sports radio history, it only gets better when you can see the veins popping out of his forehead and the crazed look in his eyes while shouting directly into an HD camera.
It takes people behind the scenes, and while audio is a more intimate medium, you can’t pretend as if TV is going away. It isn’t. But how we consume TV is changing, and YouTube is going to serve as the de-facto free, over-the-air home for video shortly.
Don’t know where to start? Ask someone who is already doing it. How did they do it? What equipment did they get? How did they sell management on it? It isn’t a different approach from any other special project you’ve wanted to get started or rolling at your station.
Guaranty Media in little ol’ Baton Rouge produces some of the best video content I’ve ever seen from a radio show. Why? Because they prioritized it, put an emphasis on it, and are seeing the rewards. And yet, there are major market stations that either don’t have a YouTube channel, are just now starting one, or have one that has been neglected and only featured a few hundred subscribers.
Other stations either don’t promote their streams, or strictly put them on their own websites. I understand the thought process about hosting your video streams on your own website. But why try to create a party when there’s already a gigantic party that has all your current and potential friends begging you to show up?
I hear people talk all the time about the future of the format, and how important it is to attract younger audiences, embrace new technologies, and other things that come across as just hollow buzz words used to make it sound like you’re on the cutting edge. But I implore you to make 2024 the year you practice what you preach and start taking advantage of all the ways you can not only get in front of my ears and eyeballs, but all the ways you can make revenue for your stations, too.
Dive in head first. Take the leap. It isn’t going to be easy to begin, but it’ll be worth it in the end. I doubt you’ll look back on it later and think “Man, I wish we hadn’t started video streaming the shows”. Stop hoping people find your content and start shoving it in their faces.
Garrett Searight is the Editor of Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media. He previously was the Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH. He is also the radio play-by-play voice of Northern Michigan University hockey. Reach him at [email protected].
Will the NBA Be the Next League to Exclusively Stream Playoff Games?
Apple, Amazon, and Netflix are still going to try to find live sports rights, and the leagues will likely carve out a small package to dip their toes in.
In mid-November, the VP and Global Head of Amazon Prime Video Sports, Jay Marine was talking to John Ourand and Andrew Marchand on their podcast about the upcoming NBA media rights deal.
Currently, the Association has an exclusive negotiating window with the incumbent rights holders, Disney (ESPN/ABC) & Warner Brothers Discovery (TNT), until March 2024. The top Amazon sports exec said about Amazon’s involvement once their window to negotiate opens, “something like the playoffs would be an important part of [our bid].
A few weeks later Amazon Prime was announced as part of NASCAR’s new media rights deal that begins in 2025, as they’ll get 5 Cup Series races per year as part of the deal, which expires in 2031. It will be the first time in the history of NASCAR its top series will be streamed exclusively.
On December 23rd, Peacock will air an exclusive NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers, and NBC Sports Group announced their A-team of Mike Tirico, Chris Collinsworth, and Melissa Stark doing the game from SoFi Stadium. This is the first year of their new 11-year media rights deal with the NFL which allows NBC Universal to stream one game per season exclusively on the streaming service.
It’s been mentioned before over the past few years how much streamers want to get involved in live TV rights, but more than ever the sports leagues themselves are embracing the possibility. Are we as viewers ready for the change?
Regular season games have become palatable on streaming services. Along with the game on Peacock in a few weeks, the NFL has an International Series game airs once per year on ESPN+. Major League Baseball has had Apple TV+ air Friday night doubleheaders over the past two seasons, along with a Sunday afternoon game on Peacock as well.
The NHL as part of the new deal that went into effect for the 2021-2022 season has 75 games air exclusively on ESPN+ and Hulu. So in the grand scheme of things we’ve gotten used to it, but now with Jay Marine’s comment, streamers want more, and will the leagues give it to them?
Though NBC has promoted it every time they mention the December 23rd game, people will forget, and I’m sure people will react with shock and horror at the fact an NFL Wild Card game will be streamed exclusively on Peacock this season.
As part of the agreement, the league will have NBC air 3 games during “Super Wild Card Weekend” this season. On Saturday, January 13th, they will have a 4:30 game which will air on NBC (and also available to be streamed on Peacock) and then the 8:15 game will air exclusively on Peacock. Every season during the 11-year deal with the NFL, NBC will also air a Sunday night playoff game.
Fans still complain when a playoff game aired on MLB Network or NBA TV is years past, so the fact the NFL took this chance is saying something. But as we know the NFL is probably the most teflon league in the country. They’ve aired games at 9:30 AM ET and we all watched, they added a “Black Friday” game on Amazon and we watched. For the other sports, this may not be the perfect sport to mimic.
NASCAR and MLS are niche sports in the country, so they can take chances with streaming, but remember with NASCAR ratings down this season they only chose 5 races to be streamed exclusively, with NBC and FOX getting most of the front and back half. With the MLS all games are on Apple TV+ so they went with an all-or-nothing approach. Meanwhile, the NHL has struggled to find an audience in this country for years, so they are unlikely to place games exclusively to be streamed.
That leaves Major League Baseball and the NBA. For MLB, they can use the NBA as a test dummy, currently, FOX and TBS have their contracts through the 2028 season, while ESPN also has a contract through 2028, but they can opt out after the 2025 season. The NBA values the NBA Finals being on linear TV, so that likely won’t change in the next deal, but with the addition of the In-Season Tournament, and a lot of playoff inventory, they can script out a package for a streamer.
The NBA is looking to double or triple their payout in the next deal from their current rights deals, but with the economy as it currently stands, the NBA will not get that money from only Disney and WBD, since both are likely going to cut games, but still want important games. This means the NBA will have to involve one if not two more partners. But to get the partners to be more enticed to pay a high price, they need to give them something marquee.
WBD will want to keep the All-Star Game, at least one exclusive night a week, and playoff games & a conference final. Disney will sacrifice not doing two nights a week for basketball, maybe one night on ESPN and windows on the weekend for ABC, along with playoff games and the NBA Finals.
What I see as likely for the NBA to get the money they want, and to maybe advance to streamers is to definitely have NBC as your third partner, and what they have done with MLB and NFL as your blueprint.
Suggested NBA-NBC Deal
- Alternate NBA Finals with ABC starting in 2026
- ABC will get 2025, NBC gets 2026
- In Years they do not have the NBA Finals they will get a Conference Final with TNT
- 2025: NBC Eastern Conference, TNT Western Conference
- 2026: ABC Western Conference, TNT Eastern Conference
- 2027: NBC Western Conference, TNT Eastern Conference
- 2028: ABC Eastern Conference, TNT Western Conference
- Alternate In-Season Tournament Knockout Games with TNT & ESPN/ABC
- Sunday Night Basketball – begin package right after the NFL Season Ends
- Stream 10-20 Games on Peacock, Select First Round Playoff Games on Peacock
With this deal the NBA probably gets the money they want in the deal, NBC Universal gets more product for Peacock, and almost creates Sunday night is where you go for the best of sports. It also may lighten the pressure on the NBA if they don’t feel comfortable giving the new streamers postseason games, but still room to carve out a regular-season package.
Apple, Amazon, and Netflix are still going to try to find live sports rights, and the leagues will likely carve out a small package to dip their toes in, but I do believe we are still a few more years away from seeing postseason games from those leagues away from TV.
Moses Massena is a Sports Television veteran, working for Regional and National Networks. Most recently the Seton Hall University Graduate spent 14 years at MLB Network, working in roles from researcher to segment producer to Producer at the league-owned network, winning 7 Sports Emmys for his contributions to “MLB Tonight”. The New York native has also worked a producer at MSG Network, and served as a researcher for FOX & ESPN. Moses started his professional television career working at SNY from 2007-2009. To connect with Moses, find him on Twitter @MosesMassena16.
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