A good sports talk show host, a good talk show host of any kind really, has to have some ego. He or she has to believe they are good at the job. Confidence is part of what makes a host an entertainer and not just some person talking into a microphone.
Being a great host means you know how to command an audience. It means you know how to lead a conversation and be interesting. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have a grasp on what it is the audience wants to talk about today. You would be surprised how many hosts, in high profile positions, when left to their own devices, will not include major headline stories in their rundown.
You may be objecting and saying that a good entertainer can get his audience to follow them anywhere. That might be true, but is it the best way to build loyalty? Also, it’s exhausting to think that way every single day.
The best communicators in this business start by figuring out where their listeners’ brains are and then going there. It is why, in the middle of a very compelling NBA Finals, a host in Oklahoma City will lead his show with talk about a Sooners team that is still more than a month and a half from starting its season. That is what most sports fans in that city are thinking about right now.
Ego is a necessity to succeed in the media world, but strategically deployed humbleness can take the confidence generated by ego even further.
That means that a program director has to pay attention to show rundowns. If a host is making all of those decisions and those decisions don’t make sense to the PD, then the PD has to step in. That can mean empowering a producer to step in and steer the rundown. That can mean implementing a content clock that dictates something like 50% of every hour will be dedicated to a particular home team. A programmer has a lot of options getting the right conversations on air.
Sports radio is filled with former players. Plenty of hosts in large markets are also personalities on league networks or are part of certain teams’ broadcasts. It’s natural that those guys feel comfortable talking about their particular area of expertise, but if that is all they feel like they can do, you have to step in.
Guys like that have plenty of contacts across their sport of choice. A former player is a great avenue for scoring interviews with current players and coaches. There has to be a governor on the rolodex though. Some guys just like to show off their access. If the Colts aren’t playing the Raiders on Sunday, what value is there in having Jon Gruden on an Indianapolis radio station that week? No matter how big the star, if there is not obvious, immediate local relevance, it is worth asking what is in this interview for the listeners.
Having a good compass for content isn’t just about what you are talking about. It is also about how you are treating the topic. If you are on in Seattle and you hit the expansion draft once on Thursday morning’s show, did you properly serve your audience? The Kraken will finally have a roster. That will be a major conversation for local sports fans.
Picking good content is about picking out the angles to pursue. On the day of a major event like the expansion draft, you need to look at your rundown and ask if you are doing enough. Hitting on a few major, available names and then moving on to other topics just isn’t going to cut it.
This is why I advocated last week for radio guys to be at the forefront of the application stack when it comes to producers. If a host is the type that likes to fit as many topics into a show as he can, the host needs a creative partner that can get him excited about talking about a single subject in a variety of ways.
Content selection really can make or break a show. I have spoken to local hosts that in the past were looking for someone to tell them that their show would be better if they talked about the biggest national stories instead of having to talk about a local college team or a local pro team that is in the middle of another unremarkable season.
I always answer the same way. Can you do a better job with the national story than ESPN or FOX? Can you book a better guest? Can you and your one producer put together a more compelling segment with stats, opinions, and audio than a network show and its three, four, or five producers can? Maybe, but it isn’t likely. So if the other sports station in town is airing syndicated programming, isn’t the winning play to go local? Even if the national show touches on a topic in your town, they shouldn’t be able to create better content with the story than you can.
You may not like to describe yourself this way, but hosts, producers, and programmers in any radio format are artists. There is no formula for guaranteed success in what we do. All you can do is make judgement calls and hope they are right.
The difference between radio and visual art forms is there is still a game to win in our case. We all want to win, so if you are questioning your host’s judgement in terms of content, why not make it easier for them to make the right calls?
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.
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