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Why Doesn’t The NFL Just Stream Sunday Ticket On Its Own?

“No one is going to argue the power the league currently has in its relationship with the media, but what if there were a way for it to have even more?”

Demetri Ravanos

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The NFL is still trying to figure out the right move for the future of Sunday Ticket. The package that allows fans to watch every out of market game will hit the open market after the 2022 regular season is over. Every major TV provider is eyeing the package. Just this week, Bob Chapek mentioned that Disney has had discussions with the league about making it the centerpiece of ESPN+.

Despite an ongoing legal battle about the way the package is priced, it is still something fans clamor for and something any sports bar needs to stay in business. The NFL’s current television structure makes the package a necessity on Sundays for fans that do not live in the same market where their favorite team plays. That DirecTV would give it up says more about AT&T’s business model than it does about the nation’s appetite for professional football.

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Sure, the NFL could ring a billion dollar deal out of Disney or DAZN or NBCUniversal or any of the dozens of other companies chomping at the bit to legitimize their streaming platform on the back of America’s favorite sport. But why should the NFL make a deal with anyone?

No one is going to argue the power the league currently has in its relationship with the media, but what if there were a way for it to have even more?

Any network that is in the live rights game lives in fear of the day the NFL realizes it does not need them. CBS, Disney, FOX, NBC, and now Amazon fork over billions in order to get a taste of the action. If the media tried to play hardball, all the league would have to do is hire the right programmers. The day the NFL decides to get into the direct-to-consumer business, it will have one of the most profitable streaming sports platforms in the world. How Roger Goodell and his bosses don’t see that that is what represents the ideal future for Sunday Ticket baffles me.

DirecTV will charge two different price points for Sunday Ticket in 2021. To get all of the out of market games, fans will pay $293.94. To get all of the out of market games plus the Red Zone channel and the Fantasy Zone channel, fans will pay $395.94. That is nearly $100 per month during the season for the top package.

The most recent contract the league signed with DirecTV netted a total of $12 billion over eight years. Surely, the league could launch its own platform, where Red Zone and fantasy streams are proprietary, set a cost between 70 and 80 dollars per month during the season, and make a similar profit on subscriptions alone. Add the ad revenue that would go directly into the team owners’ pockets and honestly, you have to question the sanity of the league’s power brokers for not having done this already.

There is a reason Disney paid $3 billion for the exclusive rights to SEC sports. There is a reason NBC seems willing to give Englad’s Premier League a blank check to hang on to the rights and put more games on Peacock.

Executives in media know the trends. They see how younger audiences consume their entertainment. They want it wherever they are. For the most part, they want it on their schedule. And there’s a good chance they don’t want to lock into a three-to-four hour piece of content, whatever it is.

Streaming platforms can check all of those boxes in a way linear TV cannot. Plus, if you are savvy and discerning, streaming is a cost-saving alternative to traditional TV packages. That is only going to become more important to consumers if wages stay stagnant and the cost of living keeps going up.

There is a generation of owners’ sons and daughters that understand the trends of media and media consumption. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper presses the commissioner to make deals for the league based on what will happen, not on what has happened in the past.

David Tepper Buys Florida Mansion Amid Wall Street Migration: Report

Right now, Goodell seems to be guided by the whims Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, and Stan Kroenke, who all understandably think about media like the septuagenarians they are. That is a good thing for the networks. The louder Tepper’s voice gets and the more sway these sons and daughters gain within their organizations, the closer the NFL comes to giving linear television the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk.

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.

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WRONG BAD

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.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

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

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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

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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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