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Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Somers, And The Death Of Appointment Listening

“As I saw that post, both last night and again the next morning, I immediately realized that the audio of this appearance would shortly be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the Audacy app, and a podcast that I subscribe to already.”

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For a radio station with the iconic history as WFAN possesses, comedian Jerry Seinfeld calling into the radio station isn’t a huge moment. But it’s not a small one either. On social media, people posted that Seinfeld was calling host Steve Somers.

I did not move a muscle.

Don’t get me wrong. Seinfeld is an icon. I am a massive fan of it all: the show about nothing, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Heck, I’ve even seen the Bee Movie.

I had just finished a live show Monday night when I saw the post. “Seinfeld is on with Somers right now on WFAN!!!!!,” Joan Chin of Sirius/XM Radio wrote. As I saw that post, both last night and again the next morning, I immediately realized the audio of this appearance would shortly be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the Audacy app, and a podcast that I subscribe to already.

Instantly, it became apparent that appointment listening was no longer a thing. If someone was in their car, they might have already been listening to the FAN. Forget the words demographic, rating, or share. Did a person find out Seinfeld was calling in, and go to a radio to listen?

If so, how old was that person?

Appointment listening has long been a staple of sports radio. I can remember when George Steinbrenner was a guest on Mike and Mad Dog in 1990. The station wasn’t clear on my radio in my room (I was 16 years old), so I borrowed the keys to my dad’s car to sit on the driveway (I only had a driver’s permit) to hear the Boss be grilled by Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. I distinctly recall my mother calling to me from the front door to come in for dinner, but I could not leave until Steinbrenner did.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” said former radio programmer Don Kollins who now works with Twitch. “That appointment radio is gone or going the way of the dinosaur. Digital is taking over and everything happens in digital-first and radio is playing catch up. Radio’s not going to be the platform to break things down the road. They are going to be a place where people react.”

This is not just on WFAN by any stretch. Their parent company, newly renamed Audacy, makes clips and podcasts all the time. They promote digital. While I wasn’t checking their app when I saw Joan’s post, they were promoting clips shortly after Jerry’s appearance concluded.

That sufficed for any Seinfeld fan.

Speaking of podcasts, that’s what I listen to more than anything else. I have my lists (future column on my must-listen podcasts coming to BSM soon). On my lists are many sports radio stations. However, there is a new trend where these stations are posting full hours on a podcast.

A podcast can be many things. Regurgitating whole hours seems to lack any creativity. Take the medium and bring something new to the table. Most stations have a staff of people. Someone must have an idea to make some of the station’s content appear unique.

I should note that KJR in Seattle does something really smart. They feature two separate feeds for Dave “Softy” Mahler and Dick Fain. One feed handles specific interview segments while a separate feed highlights whole hours. I check out their great segments, while those with more time might enjoy the latter.

Still, the new normal may be that people will turn to digital. It is not a bad thing in the slightest. The only issue is the transition. As companies that run radio stations turn their focus, the older generation still clings to a medium that doesn’t resonate like it used to. Of the magic 25-54 demographic, the emphasis seems to be more like 45-54, while the 25-44 are leaning towards finding digital-first.

“I feel where the switch is on between radio ratings, Nielsen and PPM, carrying a meter and finding out weeks, if not months later, how you did in the ratings is so archaic that it’s gone,” said Kollins. “It’s gone the way of the dinosaur already.

“In a platform like Twitch, you can do a show and find out what your ratings are within an hour of that show. You know, how you did. I think that’s the basic switch where radio has lost that ability to cash in on the advertising. It’s going digital, and it’s going to digital very, very quickly. Radio is suffering.”

Still, if corporations that are owning radio stations continue to change their focus, perhaps they can adapt from radio to digital like people moved on from AM to FM. 8-Tracks to cassettes to CDs to iPods to what we have now.

Just, if Jerry Seinfeld calls in, I’ll catch when I catch it. It’s not like that time when he answered his phone shouting “If you know what happened in the Met game don’t tell me I taped it! Hello!” 

Told you I was a fan.

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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