With college football right around the corner, one program made the decision to cancel its entire season as UCONN shut down the program for the 2020 season due to COVID-19 on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Big Ten also made an announcement Wednesday as they unveiled their conference-only schedule, which is slated to begin on September 5.
All of this news comes days after PAC-12 players released a statement to The Players’ Tribune demanding safety precautions be put in place in addition to a 50/50 revenue split with the conference for the upcoming season. The Big Ten released their own statement on Wednesday:
During the first hour of The Paul Finebaum Show on Tuesday, ESPN college football analyst Rod Gilmore joined the program. Gilmore, who is a Stanford alum, has been working at ESPN and ABC since 1996 and is one of the more familiar voices in the booth for PAC-12 games. You can catch the interview here at about the 20-minute mark.
Right at the beginning of the interview, Gilmore mentioned that he is worried about the start of the college football season, saying a bubble model, which has proven to be the most effective way to limit athletes exposure to the virus, is beyond what college football can do.
“I’m more worried today than I was yesterday. It just seems to fluctuate on a daily basis,” he said. “The events of the last few days are really unsettling. When you hear about a player at Indiana who has COVID-19 and winds up in the hospital, Rutgers shuts down, Northwestern shuts down…I am more worried today than I was a couple weeks ago. Add to the mix that the players have found their voice and they are weighing in with their concerns, which is perfectly legitimate. That was something conferences didn’t have to consider a couple of weeks ago.”
Gilmore, who has spoken with PAC-12 players about these issues, gave insight gave some insight into the players’ demands and their priorities.
“You have to step back and recognize we are in the midst of a sea change in college football, he told Finebaum. “The things that are concerning players just didn’t crop up this year….All these things have been percolating for quite a while. Then, we have 2020 where we have these incredible triggering events with George Floyd killing on video for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Social justice has become a very personal thing to a lot of players. They feel invested.
“You look at the PAC-12 players and their manifesto/list of demands. They included in there the reference to money and sharing the revenue but from talking to players the past few days, it seems clear their focus was really on health and safety, getting the testing right, and being able to make an impact socially. There’s a lot going on and a lot to unpack.”
During the interview, Gilmore said that university presidents and trustees should be worried about the optics of having a season just for financial reasons, noting that the desire to start a season can only take conferences so far.
“We may get a start, we may get teams that push ahead to start the season, but can we get through a season? I’m not optimistic right now at this moment.”
Of course, with all the conference schedules not having the same format, it also leads to the question that if one conference does not play, would the others follow suit? Gilmore would not be surprised if that did not happen:
While schedules are being released, there is still so much uncertainty surrounding college football in 2020. This interview between two prominent media members in college football highlights that.
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.