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Canadian Sports Radio Struggles Cause Surge In Digital Content

Personalities are learning to adjust in a volatile time for Canadian sports talk radio.

Russ Heltman

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The pandemic has hit radio stations everywhere, and Canada is no different. In February, Bell Media announced they were closing three of their seven sports talk stations. They also don’t have a Toronto Blue Jays radio crew for the first time. 

It’s not just Bell Media either, lack of advertising revenue and an increase in the work from home population has the Canadian Association of Broadcasters projecting around 200 radio stations could close down in the country. All of this volatility has led Canadian sports personalities away from traditional media.

The Athletic talked with a few of them, including Ashley Docking and Andrew Paterson, about their ventures. 

Docking formerly co-hosted the morning show on 590 The Fan in Toronto but left the station in 2020. She now creates postgame TikTok videos following Raptors games. The project started in January and has boosted her reach on Twitter by one million impressions.

“It (media fragmentation) means you can diversify your offerings and can go after demographics that never felt included,” Docking said. “You can open the door for marketing dollars from companies that you just haven’t thought of yet.”

Paterson hosted an afternoon drive show in one of the shuttered TSN Radio markets. He launched the Winnipeg Sports Talk podcast earlier this month.

“I think the potential for this is massive. Our podcast numbers have been amazing. And we have all these TSN 1290 orphans in our chat room. People who used to listen to us on radio, and now they’ve shifted over here. It’s like we are a brand new community.”

Paterson and Docking are finding niche spots in the industry and capitalizing on them during a volatile time up north.

Sports Online

Barstool Sports CEO: Golf Likely Next Step For Company’s Live Broadcasts

“I think we‘ll start with the biggest sports that we know and love.”

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Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini recently did a wide-ranging interview with AdAge.com about the future of the digital sports outlet’s television aspirations, and she said sports they’re familiar with will take priority.

“”We want sports that appeal to a broad audience. We’re kind of tickled to be able to broadcast things in the first place. So I think we‘ll start with the biggest sports that we know and love, whether it’s basketball and football,” Nardini said. “You could definitely see that extended to golf, that would probably be the next place that we’ll play.”

The questions about Barstool’s future aspirations come after the company’s successful first broadcast of the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl. Barstool says the broadcast received nearly 1 million views, peaking at 130,000 concurrent viewers. The outlet also broadcasted the Barstool Sports Invitational that featured Akron, Mississippi State, Toledo, and UAB in November.

Nardini added that the company is interested live televised sports for a few reasons.

“We’re owned by a sports betting company and the more we think about building our sports platform, there’s obviously a huge opportunity for us to convey a whole bunch of offerings to our audience, but certainly betting will be one of them…I think that live sports on television is the last man standing where it’s all anyone tunes in for.”

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Fanatics to Open First Sportsbook Inside FedEx Field

“The location at the home of the Washington Commanders will make it the first sportsbook to open inside an NFL stadium.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Sports licensing giant Fanatics will soon be launching its long-anticipated sportsbook.

The company will open up a physical sportsbook location in Maryland at FedEx Field on January 20. Fanatics has also been granted a license to operate in Massachusetts, tethered to Plainridge Park Casino.

The location at the home of the Washington Commanders will make it the first sportsbook to open inside an NFL stadium. Bettors in the DMV will now be able to place wagers at all their local teams’ venues, as William Hill has an on-site location at Capital One Arena – home of the Capitals and Wizards – and BetMGM has a space at Nationals Park in D.C.

Despite having a physical location at FedEx Field, bettors in Maryland will not be able to place mobile wagers through a Fanatics Sportsbook app.

According to Front Office Sports, Fanatics hopes to have the sportsbook up and running in some fashion in all states where legal by September.

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Pat McAfee Teases Major New Partnership

“We didn’t sleep much the last couple days so we haven’t really gotten to grasp this entire thing.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Up to something season has returned for Pat McAfee.

McAfee has routinely used that phrasing to tease viewers and listeners about major dealings in the works, and on Wednesday he said something big is coming down the pike.

“We’re up to something,” McAfee said. “We got a big partnership coming up. It’s big. We haven’t even chatted about this at all. That’s how much we’ve evolved.”

Pat continued about how the show has matured, saying he was proud they waited until this late in the game to even bring up the fact they’ve got a new deal to announce.

“If this conversation had taken place three years ago, the announcement we’re about to make, it would’ve been two weeks worth of the show,” he said. “Every single segment would’ve been brought back to oh something’s coming, something’s coming, something’s coming.”

“That is changing quickly in a big way,” he added.

McAfee noted that being on the road in Los Angeles for the college football national championship has made the reaction to the new partnership somewhat subdued.

“I should be more excited,” he said. “We didn’t sleep much the last couple days so we haven’t really gotten to grasp this entire thing. We’ve been working on this for a couple years now. Good for us, dude.”

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