Now that I’m writing for the sports side of Barrett Media, I’ve been going back to my roots and doing a lot of listening to sports radio in my spare time.
While there are many great shows on many different platforms, I STILL hear a lot of mistakes being made. What’s odd (and also a bit frustrating) is that these are mistakes that I used to rail against when I was running radio stations.
Like a bad penny, they keep turning up.
Every Program Director/Content Manager has similar thoughts and philosophies on what makes good content and bad content. However, there are some pet peeves of mine that I just can’t let slide.
I narrowed it down to what I consider to be four mortal sins.
I would always tell my hosts that I wanted them coming out of the gate swinging. Get to the heart of what you want to talk about because people tuning in don’t have the patience for you to get warmed-up. If sports radio were football, I always wanted my people running no-huddle.
Recently, I had tuned into a sports-talk show host on Sirius-XM that started his show by introducing himself, his producer, and his engineer. He then asked everyone how their weekend was and spent several minutes laying out all the different things he was going to talk about over the next few hours. Ugh. By the time he got to his first topic, I was so annoyed I didn’t even care what the guy had to say.
If you’re hosting a show, you have about 10 seconds to make a pitch that can hook a listener into a segment. The best hosts are the ones that hit you with their opinion right away and follow it up by unpacking their rationale one point at a time.
THE LIONS MADE A GREAT MOVE TODAY, AND I’M GOING TO TELL YOU WHY.
AARON RODGERS AND THE PACKERS ARE DONE, AND THIS IS A GOOD THING FOR BOTH SIDES.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HAS A MAJOR PROBLEM AND IF THEY DON’T FIX IT, THEY’LL BE DEAD IN 10 YEARS.
These are examples of GREAT ways to open a show or a segment. You lead with an attention-getting statement which buys you time to explain yourself.
Overproduction can also be a real drag on a program.
There was one major market sports talk show I listened to once that opened-up every hour with a montage that (and I timed it) went on for nearly three minutes. It was filled with clips from the previous day’s show, sound-bytes from movies, sound effects and bunch of inside jokes that I couldn’t understand.
This thing went on longer than the open to Sunday Night Football.
I am sure that the hosts and producers found it amusing…I found it to be a self-indulgent waste of time.
Based on that program (and station’s) ratings, I’m not the only person with that opinion.
TAKING TERRIBLE PHONE CALLS
When it comes to callers, I’ve always believed in quality over quantity. While a GREAT phone call can be a standout moment for a show, a terrible one can send it into the gutter.
Yet, I still hear hosts that will put almost anyone on, and many of them add nothing to the program. People that ramble, talk slow, have a bad connection, etc. are absolute show killers. If they can’t be screened out in the producer’s booth, get rid of them. That sounds cold-blooded, but this is show business. Disconnecting may upset the caller, but it will likely be a sigh of relief from the thousands of other listeners who couldn’t stand what they were hearing.
A good rule of thumb for hosts…if a caller is boring YOU, it’s likely boring the listener.
FALLING DOWN A RABBIT HOLE
This is one that REALLY gets to me and I still hear it far too often.
Sports Media A.D.D. is a major, major problem.
Odds are you’ve heard it. A show starts talking about one thing and then it goes off the rails by talking about something completely uninteresting and irrelevant.
Often, the hosts are guilty of self-sabotage and it makes for terrible radio. Maybe they get distracted by something in the studio. Maybe a co-host, caller or producer tries to change the subject or take the conversation in a different direction. There are countless examples.
I remember once listening to a host who STARTED out by talking about a major move one of the local teams made and somehow segued into asking listeners if a hot dog was a sandwich. How did he get there? He did an aside on how he had a hot dog for lunch that day and sucked the show into a vortex of one of the dumbest questions ever created.
Sports radio is not a Phish concert. No one wants to listen to you jam randomly for hours at a time, making things up as you go along. If you want to live in that kind of world, go do a podcast…where TSL and tune-ins aren’t as important.
Every segment is like a trip…you’re taking listeners to a destination. Don’t pull off the road every time you think you see something interesting.
NOT SELLING THEIR SEGMENTS
A listener’s time is valuable currency. If you want it, you need to sell them on reasons to stay. Yet, I still hear a lot of empty teasing from the hosts.
COMING UP, WE’RE TAKING YOUR CALLS ON THE (INSERT TEAM)
WE’LL TALK ABOUT (INSERT NAME OF PLAYER/COACH) RIGHT AFTER THIS
These statements tell me NOTHING. Yet, I still hear them being thrown out there as ways to grab people’s attention.
There is an art to teasing and front selling. It’s not a science and it really isn’t difficult. Hosts need to put themselves in the mindset of having to make a pitch. Just because a host thinks something is good doesn’t necessarily mean listeners will have the same opinion.
You’re competing for tune-ins with a lot of other media. You need to give to convince them that its in their best interests to stick with you and not channel surf.
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.