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Paul Pierce’s Rivalries Could Derail His Media Career

“Truth seems like a decent dude at the least. I want to believe that. Yet, I see him trending down a risky broadcasting path.”

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Ultra-competitive zeal, as much as anything else, is most paramount to the upward trajectory of an athlete’s career. Conversely, this exact mindset can become a deterrent in allowing a former athlete to perform up to the maximum of their potential as a broadcaster or analyst. I believe this complex dynamic is precisely what happened to ESPN NBA Analyst, Paul Pierce, over the weekend.

Pierce, a retired 19-year NBA veteran and likely Basketball Hall of Famer, has come under fire for comments made on NBA Countdown pertaining to his stance that, “Players today are scared of LeBron!” He added, “…my era is out of the league…we weren’t afraid of LeBron.”

The Paul Pierce vs. LeBron James Rivalry Continues - CelticsBlog

Several current and former NBA players, pundits, and fans took to a variety of platforms to vehemently disagree and vilify Paul for his stance.

I will not do that here! Instead, I choose to try and be understanding and attempt to articulate what is motivating Truth to consistently make these flippant and condescending remarks towards members of the NBA community. Why is he continuing to allow these petty occurrences to distract viewers from better understanding the intricacies of pro basketball from his highly accomplished viewpoint? This rhetoric is not a good look for Mr. Pierce nor the network which employs him.

Obviously, Paul has done more in his athletic career than I ever dreamed for myself, and I respect his achievements. Having never met nor spoken with the man, at a certain level, I believe I can still reasonably identify with his outlook on the sport he’s dedicated his life to. At one time, I had a similar issue.

It’s called infatuation! People like he and I love the essence of the game and how it’s perceived so much, we can become blinded by our own experiences or lack thereof. It makes for pretty rigid and stubborn analysis and that attitude doesn’t show well on television. 

Fortunately for me, I was “coached” out of this mindset just prior to entering the sports media. While working in the player personnel department for the now Washington Football Team, the GM at the time (who happens to now be a media talent himself) shared some very valuable advice.

“Fleet, when it comes to player analysis; write what you see. Nothing more. Nothing less,” he said.

To add context, I shouldn’t create these mental or emotional boxes that players are traditionally expected to fit into. Instead, I should humble myself enough to allow the game and it’s participants to evolve, in order to evaluate accurately. Those players are communicating to us through their performances. Simply tell their story; not what I want their story to be. 

Those words helped me forge this relatively successful career as a pro and college football analyst. I learned objectivity in my assessments. This psychological conditioning I believe served me most well while contributing to the nationally syndicated Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) football package via Raycom Sports.

Stan M. Norfleet (@stansportsman) | Twitter

It was appropriate for me to be unbiased and not overly critical towards a player or program within the ACC. It is significantly more important Paul demonstrate adequate objectivity in discussing NBA matters, given the scale of his position.

Truth seems like a decent dude at the least. I want to believe that. Yet, I see him trending down a risky broadcasting path. One, which potentially jeopardizes his credibility and value as an analyst. 

I believe I generally understand the uber-competitive gene he’s clinging to. It served him well and made him quite wealthy in a previous chapter of life. However, Paul needs to understand, that this particular characteristic is currently betraying him in the media space.

You had a helluva playing career Truth, but it ended in 2017. You don’t get to guard LeBron anymore. It’s their game now! Life, and the game we once knew, has evolved. It’s time for you to do the same internally. 

I can only imagine how challenging it is for him to contain that extreme passion, for the sake of the job. However, this is the job! 

ESPN's 'NBA Countdown' Sees Ratings Growth Through Team Chemistry

I am certainly not advocating the man completely suppress his genuine personality. I’m simply imploring Paul Pierce to manage his emotions more effectively; it makes for better T.V.

BSM Writers

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.”

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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.

Global Is Cool': The Growing Appeal of Premier League Soccer in America
Courtesy: Morning Consult

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.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 45

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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.

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BSM Writers

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.”

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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?

A Pot of Gold Articles - Analyzing Metals
Courtesy: iStockphoto

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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