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Ratings Growth, Popularity Resurgence Good News For MLB & Its Broadcasters

“These trends for the game are promising for sure.”



I know it’s early but baseball is setting records already. The sport many experts have left for dead managed to surprise everyone and hit new highs in viewership. MLB.TV and ESPN saw ratings climb over the first three weeks of the season. Just what does this mean? How does it affect a broadcast and a broadcaster?

According to Major League Baseball, the beginning of the season marked the most-watched 18-day period in the 20-season history of MLB.TV, including the 7 most watched days ever. Viewership was up 43 percent when compared to the same time period of the 2019 season (12 percent up from 2020). The release also indicated that fans have already watched 1.34 billion minutes of live games. ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and MLB Network saw record viewership in the same period, so it’s not just the streaming aspect that is flying high for the league. 

2021 MLB win predictions: How we see standings playing out

As a broadcaster there really isn’t much you can do about the ratings under most circumstances. To me, the only time it really falls on you is if it’s a blowout game. How are you keeping the audience glued to your broadcast in that situation? Have you developed a great rapport with your partner? Have you cultivated a strong relationship with the fan base? That could be the difference as to whether or not the audience stays with you during a boring, blowout or just long game.

With baseball trying to gear itself to a younger audience, isan announcer relating well to that segment of the audience? Television broadcasts are trying to help by putting up graphics featuring advanced metrics like “weighted runs created”, “WAR” and of course “spin rate”. This is helping because that’s what these young fans are craving, more and more stats. They want better stats that tell a more impactful story. We old school broadcasters need to take a crash course in the meaning of all of these new numbers, because this is where the next generation of fans is taking the game. 

Some networks have gone as far as producing “secondary” broadcasts that may focus just on StatCast numbers. I’ve even taken part in a few of these telecasts that provide “enhanced” coverage of games. On a few years back, from studios in New York, we would watch the MLB Network showcase game and focus mainly on what the numbers meant. What were they telling us? We also used the broadcasts as a teaching tool to allow fans to understand the new terminology. Those broadcasts set the stage for what ESPN and MLB Network are doing with a few baseball broadcasts in a season. 

A few networks are now focusing on the gambling angle of the game. It’s another lure for a younger viewer to get his/her fix of a Major League game with a chance to score themselves. It also makes sense because MLB is partnering with a gambling app, and these broadcasts focus strictly on the “in game” lines and trends and props. This attracts a whole different audience that needs to be served. 

This new way super serving every audience is good news for broadcasters. It results in more opportunities for announcers overall. Those secondary broadcasts I talked about, need that play-by-play guy for his/her ability to be the traffic cop. Even though it may not be airing on a main channel, it still has to have a format and a flow to it. These telecasts provide a good opportunity to showcase your knowledge and the ability to work with multiple analysts to tell the story.

I remember the prep for our StatCast broadcasts was a little more intense than that of a regular game. I found myself digging deeper into numbers and trends. Still I needed to make those stats relatable though. It’s a great training ground for actual play-by-play as well. 

Even if the ratings were to dip nationally, the game is safe and sound locally. The hometown announcers know the city, the team and what its fan base likes and doesn’t. As I mentioned, the connection and bond formed between the broadcast team and the fan base translates into viewership. Friendly, familiar faces and voices are so important in baseball. Fans feel like they really know their broadcasters. MLB would be wise to eliminate the blackout rules, so that fans aren’t left without those voices and faces when various TV providers get into carriage disputes or drop RSNs all together.

These trends for the game are promising for sure. They could be skewed a little bit, considering there were a ton of close games in the early going and two no-hitters. Those types of games will bring viewers that don’t even have a rooting interest in either team. You can’t count on that every day, so the league will have to constantly evolve.

White Sox no-hitter: Carlos Rodon no-hits Indians - Chicago Sun-Times

Getting back to what I wrote about last week, use whatever it takes, like the mic’d up approach, to feature more of the stars and their personalities to gain more and more viewership.  

Most of the major sports leagues are fairly well protected against the ratings situation anyway. They don’t sign small deals with networks, they are usually multiple years with multiple zeros and commas. Baseball even signed an extension to its current deal during the pandemic to protect itself. Perhaps this is also why the league decided to focus more attention on its longtime streaming platform They are focusing on other platforms as well. Earlier this week the Astros and Angels played a game that was aired exclusively on YouTube, not on over the air television. Maybe the pandemic caused some outside the box thinking in New York, which is good for us all. 

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.




In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.


I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves



Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table



Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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