When it comes to the hierarchy of interests in Atlanta, dining and restaurants rank No. 1 and sports rank No. 2. At least that’s how Steak Shapiro sees it and if anyone deserves to have an opinion on the subject, it’s probably him.
Shapiro, co-host of The Front Row on 680 The Fan, is the longest-running sports talk radio host in the city’s history. He also owns businesses that are outside the sports radio spectrum such as Atlanta Eats and Bread and Butter content studios, which are both centered on the food scene in the city. Not only is he trying to do a drive-time show in a major market with no sports, he’s also trying to navigate the trying times of being a business owner.
“I have 13 full-time employees to worry about,” said Shapiro. “I have marketing ad dollars to worry about. We were having the best year in our history and had a couple of big media partnerships opportunities. I’m applying for the PPP payroll loan and I’m also applying for the Government Disaster Loan.
“It gives me great perspective on the radio because I’m a small business owner and I understand the loans. We’ve had to make drastic decisions with our employees about whether we lay folks off, cut income or whether we furlough, so all those things people are talking about I’m living as a founder and owner of a company.”
Nick Cattles of ESPN Radio 94.1 in Virginia Beach is also a small business owner and has already had to make a tough decision with his bar, The Tailgate Sports Pub. Cattles and his co-owners decided to close things completely down at the bar, because curbside service and deliveries were still netting a giant loss.
“The final week we did take-out and deliveries we were down 86 percent, compared what we would do on a decent week during that time,” Cattles said. “It was just to the point where you’re keeping the place open, you obviously have bills that you’re running and employees that you’re paying. To stay open, you’re also buying food and then some of that food is going to go bad if you’re not able to sell it quick enough. All those conversations and decisions you have to make play a role.”
Kyle Bailey of WFNZ in Charlotte just started his own new business named Clubhouse Productions and was going to use the spring and summer to get things off the ground. However, with the economy taking a severe downturn, it’s put a dent on his entire timeline.
“I’ve already have to cancel my first event this summer,” Bailey said. “I’m just now getting off the ground and all of this has thrown a wrench into things. I’m still able to plan and do things behind the scenes, such as work on graphics, logos, websites and other things. I continue to do things that need to be done in the background but things have been pushed back indefinitely.”
I can’t imagine trying to balance the stress of doing a daily radio show, along with trying to make key business decisions during a time like this. But Shapiro, Cattles and Bailey are handing things in a very admirable way. It’s especially refreshing to see, that both Shapiro and Cattles are helping out other local businesses during their own dilemmas.
“My company is raising a ton of money for restaurant groups in Atlanta that are trying to survive,” said Shapiro. “Atlanta Eats has pivoted to restaurant support, which is very purpose driven.”
“I’m going to be starting on Monday a thing that I’m calling the Tough Times Giveaway,” said Cattles. “I’m driving around with my wife to local spots, we got a bunch of suggestions from people on Facebook and Twitter, and I’m going to be buying a bunch of 25-dollar gift cards to local businesses. I’ll be giving one away per day on the show, just to try and give those restaurants and bars free publicity and let people know that they’re still open and try to make some money. It’s just about trying to get these small, local places at least some kind of promotion and hopefully people will either order a gift card or still get food from there. I don’t want come across as like I’m gaining something from being on the air. I don’t think that would be fair and I think it would also be kind of weird at this point. It sounds cliché and corny but I really believe that local bars and businesses, we’re all kind of feeling the same thing.”
What about plugs over the air for your business? If the audience feels a connection to you, they’re obviously way more willing to show support for your business during a time of need. Every little bit helps, there’s no doubt about that, but can self-promotion be ok both during and after the pandemic?
“Yeah, within the guidelines of what I’m allowed to do or able to do, I will absolutely do that,” said Bailey.
“As far as on the air stuff, I try to separate my bar from what I do on the air as much as I can,” said Cattles. “Every once in a while, something happens at the bar and I’m telling a story, that I give the context of it and tell it. But I’ve had an understanding with Max Media, who owns 94.1, that I’m not going to throw the bar’s name out there for a bunch of free promotion.
“When we decided to close I told the story and spent a segment on that decision and shared it with the listeners. I would think at least some of them know the place, and I’m sure I said the name a couple of times during that segment. But it wasn’t an over the top, hey, we’re closing with a real infomercial feel. It was just more of my personal feelings of going through what we went through.”
For now, all three are just fortunate to still have a job in radio. Sure, maybe their small businesses haven’t went the way they planned in 2020, but as long as they’re still behind the mic, everything can work its self out.
Cattles’ bar is undergoing updates the establishment couldn’t normally do if it was open for normal business hours. He’s also, like so many others, waiting for the money that small businesses are getting from grants and loans. The month of August will mark five years since The Tailgate Sports Pub opened. This is the biggest hurdle he’s had to climb as a business owner but he’s hoping that life will be back to normal when the anniversary of the bar rolls around late in the summer.
Shapiro has been so successful in Atlanta because he’s been able to touch intimately on what the locals care about most: food and sports. But just because you can’t sit and eat at a restaurant, doesn’t mean he’s still not concerned with putting out great content for the local dining scene.
“I do an Instagram show live every Tuesday and Friday night and I call it Happy Hour at Home,” Shapiro said. “I think people crave some belief and some connection that the human spirit wants to know that they’re not alone. I think listeners crave a sense of familiar voice that they can relate to. They want to know that we’re all in this together.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
- Hotwire.com, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Carnival Corporation, and Priceline.com- we’ve used Hotwire in the last year.
- FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle-we wired or overnighted $
- Jos. A. Bank, shein.com, macys.com, nordstroms.com- 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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