The NFL Draft is a treasure trove for sports radio. Regardless of the team, every NFL market has a storyline for hosts to debate and discuss with their respective audiences. That makes this week unique in that every team is involved.
The very nature of a sports draft means that usually, the awful teams have the most going for them. Jacksonville and the New York Jets had horrible seasons that lead to the high picks they have. “Tank for Trevor” was a phrase that trended on social media in both those markets during the season.
Brutal teams actually have the most going for them Draft week. Still, it raised a question that had many different answers. How does a talk show host continue to provide compelling content amidst a putrid season?
I asked various talk show hosts from different markets across the country and got similar but not completely the same answers.
“It depends on if the town cares about the team,” WFNZ host Nick Wilson said. “When the Charlotte Hornets were awful and listless so much apathy built up in this town that you just try and get traction on the Hornets. It was just unbearable. You just couldn’t get people to care about the Hornets.”
“In the NFL where it’s easier,” said Detroit broadcaster Matt Dery. “when this team was 6-10. 7-9, people are fascinated by what the next moves were. The people are excited, even though Matthew Stafford was very popular, excited to see what a new quarterback will look like for the first time in 11 years, whether it’s Jared Goff or if it’s somebody else.”
Still, there’s a difference when the awful teams are in the NFL as opposed to basketball, baseball, or hockey.
“The Pistons have been hovering around eighth or ninth (place) for years and it was boring,” Dery added. “Now they are a full-fledged rebuild. The worst team in basketball, but they’re exciting. And fans are excited about the lottery. So there is something to bottoming out and getting your fans on board.”
The idea of hosting a talk show can be fun and invigorating. In a market where the only local story is a putrid team is daunting. Still, the support that a host has can make for a solid talk show.
“We want to do two things,” said Dave “Softy” Mahler, who covers the Mariners at KJR in Seattle. “Either A) we completely ignore the team or B) we hammer them constantly 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And even at some point that gets old. So it’s a matter of apathy set in. There’s a window of about maybe a month and a half at the start of the year where there’s some hope sometimes accompanied by a decent record like they have now. And when the hope fades, apathy sets in.”
Nate Lundy of Mile High Radio in Denver, Colorado shared similar sentiments.
“The joke in Denver was always that all we needed was for the Rockies to be relevant enough, to get us to training camp,” Lundy explained.
“There’s a saying around here regarding the Mariners, just get us to football,” Mahler echoed. “If they can get us to July when training camp starts, then they’ve done their job. That really is the standard right now for them. And it’s pathetic.”
This concept goes beyond analog sports radio. Podcasts are affected too. Dery is the host of the “Locked on Lions” podcast. I imagined him having to do another podcast about awful teams, day in and day out, year in and year out.
“I’ll say this about the Lions, their fan base is so passionate,” Dery said. “There’s so many of them that have stuck around and they’re loyal. People are dying for a winner here.”
In Denver, two things are helping sports radio. First, is the vitriol fans have about the recent trade of star 3rd basemen Nolan Arenado to St. Louis. Rockies’ fans are far from apathetic right now. Second, Lundy points out, is the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic pushed back the NBA and NHL playoffs. In a typical year, Denver sports radio would be knee-deep in boring Rockies baseball, there will be a shorter window between the end of hoops and pucks to Broncos OTAs and mini-camp.
“There’s always a storyline,” Lundy added. “If you know where to look, I think that if you’ve got a good producer, a good program director, there’s someone that can help you find that story.”
“The Mariners have been such a non-factor for so many years, we don’t even know what it’s like in the middle of the summer to be excited about baseball,” Mahler added. “It’s been 21 years (since the M’s made the playoffs, also since I left Seattle). Think about what’s happened in your life in 21 years.”
Being a fan awful teams is tough. Being a talk show host that has to make interesting radio about a bad team could be an uphill battle. Consider this, even if a host finds those storylines to make for entertaining radio, people may tune out of sports radio altogether just to stop the constant reminders of how bad that team actually is.
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.”
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.
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.
Media Noise – Episode 45
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.
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.”
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?
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.