I was fortunate enough to get my first job producing a sports-talk show at the tender age of eighteen. How did I get the gig? I was able to show the Program Director at the time that I was an ace at hustling to book guests. I remember carrying a pager with me 24/7 (this was long before the era of smartphones). It would commonly go off when I was in the middle of a class at college. I’d duck out of the lecture hall, find the nearest payphone, and call back to make sure that we had our show booked for the following day.
No other show in town, in ANY format, drew the kind of guests that we did. It’s something that we hung our hat on. In fact, our General Manager once took out a full-page ad in the local paper that LISTED all the different sports celebs that were heard on our program.
Looking back on this a quarter century later, I realized just how folly this approach was.
Why did we trumpet our guest list so loudly? Because who we had on our show was the ONLY THING GOOD ABOUT OUR SHOW. Almost every other aspect of it was terrible. The lead host was lazy, unfunny, and routinely unprepared.
Even a quarter-century later, the overreliance on guests continues to plague sports sports-talk media. Interviews, with a few rare exceptions, are not great content.
MOST INTERVIEWS ARE SELF-INDULGENT
Oh, if I had a dime for every time I tuned into a sports-talk show where “Host A” spent the first 3-5 minutes of an interview talking about irrelevant blather with “Guest B”. If I did, I’d be able to single-handedly bring Dogecoin up to $1.
Far too often, interviews feel more like I’m eavesdropping on a private conversation between two friends. Often, they are filled with inside jokes, personal stories, and pointless punchlines. Very rarely can they keep my interest.
Time and time again, I feel that the host(s) seem to take delight into amusing themselves instead of entertaining and informing the listener.
I remember once hearing a guest who was brought on a show to talk about a MAJOR local sports story. He spent close to 5 minutes of the interview rambling on about the new book he was writing before even discussing what was important. AND THE HOST LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT.
MOST GUESTS GIVE YOU NOTHING
What is the point of getting a writer on to talk about a story they broke? Odds are this person has written, blogged, and tweeted about most of the relevant points already. What more can they bring to the table by appearing on a show to talk about it? Odds are, not much.
Coaches and athletes…with a RARE exception, give you platitudes of nothing. Most of them have been coached by public relations professionals on what to say, when to say it and how to control a conversation or narrative.
Before a guest is booked for a show, the question needs to be posed, “What will this person GIVE us?” Hosts, producers, and content managers need to answer that question honestly before they bring someone on.
LISTENERS WANT TO HEAR WHAT THE HOST HAS TO SAY
One of my favorite shows to listen to is The Valenti Show with Rico on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit. Yes, I’m a lifelong Lions fan and Monday shows after the typical Sunday loss are always a MUST listen. But even beyond that, the show is excellent. Mike Valenti and Rico Beard are A-level talents who have amazing chemistry and the cast they surround themselves with always bring great contributions to the table. Even on a slow day, they can create memorable content. It’s no wonder it frequently sits atop most (if not all) of the money demos in Detroit’s Neilson Ratings.
One other thing that stands out about this show…they RARELY have guests. They don’t need to. What they have to say about an issue or story is far more intriguing that what a guest could say. On the rare occasion when they do have a guest, it’s because of something very relevant and they waste no time getting to the heart of the matter.
The onus is ALWAYS on the host(s) to create good content. If the best part about a show is the guests that they bring on, you have a major problem on your hands. REAL talent doesn’t need guests. They can create good content with the tools they have at their disposal.
IF YOU MUST BOOK A GUEST, FOLLOW THESE STEPS.
- Get to the point.
No one cares that you know Celeb A, Athlete B or Journalist C. Start off talking about why you are having them on, get the info and insight you need and then hang up. It shouldn’t take longer than three minutes. If you want to have a more long-form conversation with someone, save it for a podcast…where tune-ins and time spent listening don’t matter.
- Get a good connection.
Stop getting guests on cell phones. We live in an age of 5G enabled devices with apps like Skype, Zoom, etc. that are free and provide studio quality audio. Use them so you can give the listener a better experience. There are few things that kill the momentum of a conversation than having to ask a guest to “call back so we can get a better connection.”
- Remember that there are exceptions.
Every now and again a guest will give you gold. I’ve heard it. Creating good content is an art, not a science. There have been interviews that have gone on for twenty, thirty, forty minutes or more and provided exclusive content that would become the talk of the town that day. Remember, these are the exceptions and not the rule. Hosts should always be given a degree of leeway in some situations when it comes to interviews. Leeway, however, should never become the norm.
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.