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A Little Ego Can Be Your Amigo

“Ego can fuel success and also destroy potential. It’s about identifying where ego helps and where it hinders.”

Brian Noe

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Our biggest strength can also be our biggest weakness. One of the qualities that made former NFL quarterback Brett Favre so great is that he was a risk-taker. Favre’s aggressiveness is a huge reason why he’s a three-time league MVP, has a Super Bowl ring, and is one of only four quarterbacks to throw 500+ career touchdown passes. Of course you know the rest of the story. Due to Favre’s gambling ways, he also leads the league in career interceptions with 336. That’s a whopping 59 more interceptions than the next guy in line, George Blanda.

Packers: Brett Favre's Hall of Fame career was about big risks at big  moments | Pro football | madison.com
Courtesy: Morry Gash

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul provides another example of a strength also being a weakness. Paul is one of the best point guards of all time. He unexpectedly led his team to the doorstep of an NBA title this year. CP3’s intensity and great competitiveness have directly fueled his solid career. However, that intensity and competitive fire are the same qualities that have alienated some of his ex-teammates like James Harden and Blake Griffin.

We know that what works for us can also work against us. But it’s not good enough to shrug our shoulders like, “Hey, you win some and lose some.” If we can identify and minimize our biggest flaw, we’ll be in a much better position to succeed.

I recently conducted Q&A interviews with sports radio heavyweight Mike Golic and Seattle rising star Stacy Rost. This sounds like a shameless promotion for Barrett Sports Media, or at the very least a humble brag, but it’s really not. I don’t think. Golic and Rost made comments that caused me to look at ego a little differently.

First off, saying that ego is involved in sports radio is like saying that water is wet and concerts are loud. It’s obviously a big part of the industry. Ego can be your best friend or your worst enemy as a sports radio host. The comments from Golic and Rost highlight the areas where ego is helpful and hurtful.

Mike Golic has been a sports radio free agent since his reign at ESPN ended just over a year ago. I wondered if Golic finds it baffling that another company hasn’t carved out a prime position for him yet. He told me, “Does everybody have an ego and would love the networks to give you their top spot? Well sure, but that’s unrealistic.” 

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Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports

Keeping your ego in check is step one of ego maintenance. Golic is telling his ego that it’s not allowed to do the thinking for him. That’s very important. If he allowed his ego to take over and say, “You’re a beast, Golic. How are these companies going to disrespect you like that? You should be back in morning drive by now.” What would those thoughts lead to? Anger, frustration, and impatience. None of those things will cause an employer to open a door either. It’s useful to tell your ego to shut up when it’s leading you down the wrong path.

Ego isn’t all bad though. Stacy Rost said something that caused me to look closer at the benefits of having an ego. “The most important thing you can do as a radio host is be confident and think your opinion matters and people should hear it,” Rost said. “It’s this weird kind of thing that might not always play in real life if you were with your friends, and it makes for a fantastic radio host. Someone who’s confident, thinks he or she has something to say, and everyone needs to hear it right away. But that’s the stuff that draws people to you. It’s like a magnet.”

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She’s right. Her thought also ties to the very definition of ego — a person’s sense of self-importance. Ego is the only way you can think everyone needs to hear your opinion. This is where it helps. There is a peacock quality — a look at me element — that benefits radio hosts. We can’t tippy toe around and command attention. Pro wrestlers typically don’t have meek personalities. Think of Stone Cold Steve Austin cracking open cold ones, having convulsions on the top rope, giving double-bird salutes, and driving a beer truck inside Pepsi Arena in Albany, New York. That’s not exactly a meek approach.

A pro wrestler doesn’t crack the mic and timidly say, “I’ve got some things on my mind. Maybe you’d like to hear them. I don’t know, maybe not.” That wrestler oozes confidence. Radio hosts need to exude the same. There is a showmanship quality in sports radio. It’s the entertainment world; you’re literally putting on a show. It doesn’t mean hosts have to be bouncing off the walls like Ric Flair or Macho Man Randy Savage as if they drank nine pots of coffee, but coming across like people need to hear your opinion is a winning approach.

Ego is like those warning labels that say handle with care. Caution and good judgment are needed to use it properly. Ego can be off-putting. It can also cause you to get lazy. Mike Tyson was once the baddest man on the planet. He didn’t think he had to do the dirty work leading up to a fight in 1990 against Buster Douglas. Turns out he was wrong. Like really wrong. Tyson was knocked down for the first time in his career, then knocked out, and lost his heavyweight crown in the process. Do you think there are one or two (or 200) sports radio hosts that have gotten lazy due to ego? Refer back to Tyson. It doesn’t end well.

For every horror story involving ego, there is an opposite example of an immensely successful rapper that brags about being around the prettiest women and driving the nicest cars. Ego isn’t automatically a bad thing; it all depends how it’s utilized. Ego can fuel success and also destroy potential. It’s about identifying where ego helps and where it hinders.

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Imagine if Brett Favre and Chris Paul were able to minimize their biggest weakness while maintaining their biggest strength. Success city. They would’ve been unstoppable. Believe it or not there are fiery leaders that don’t royally tick off their teammates, and risk-taking quarterbacks that don’t turn the ball over as much as Favre. It could’ve happened. That’s the challenge for all of us; identifying what helps and hurts us most, then weeding out the bad stuff while maintaining the good.

For sports radio hosts, ego can be a major asset. It also has the potential to be your biggest weakness. Don’t extinguish ego; point it in the right direction.

BSM Writers

The Future Is Now, Embrace Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible.

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This week has been a reckoning for sports and its streaming future on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, ESPN+, and more.

Amazon announced that Thursday Night Football, which averaged 13 million viewers, generated the highest number of U.S. sign ups over a three hour period in the app’s history. More people in the United States subscribed to Prime during the September 15th broadcast than they did during Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday. It was also “the most watched night of primetime in Prime Video’s history,” according to Amazon executive Jay Marine. The NFL and sports in general have the power to move mountains even for some of the nation’s biggest and most successful brands.

This leads us to the conversation happening surrounding Aaron Judge’s chase for history. Judge has been in pursuit of former major leaguer Roger Maris’ record for the most home runs hit during one season in American League history.

The sports world has turned its attention to the Yankees causing national rights holders such as ESPN, Fox, and TBS to pick up extra games in hopes that they capture the moment history is made. Apple TV+ also happened to have a Yankees game scheduled for Friday night against the Red Sox right in the middle of this chase for glory.

Baseball fans have been wildin’ out at the prospects of missing the grand moment when Judge passes Maris or even the moments afterwards as Judge chases home run number 70 and tries to truly create monumental history of his own. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand has even reported there were talks between YES, MLB, and Apple to bring Michael Kay into Apple’s broadcast to call the game, allow YES Network to air its own production of the game, or allow YES Network to simulcast Apple TV+’s broadcast. In my opinion, all of this hysteria is extremely bogus.

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible. Amazon brought in NBC to help with production of TNF and if you watch the flow of the broadcast, the graphics of the broadcast, NBC personalities like Michael Smith, Al Michaels, and Terry McAuliffe make appearances on the telecast – it is very clear that the network’s imprint is all over the show.

NBC’s experience in conducting the broadcast has made the viewing experience much more seamless. Apple has also used MLB Network and its personalities for assistance in ensuring there’s no major difference between what you see on air vs. what you’re streaming.

Amazon and Apple have also decided to not hide their games behind a paywall. Since the beginning of the season, all of Apple’s games have been available free of charge. No subscription has ever been required. As long as you have an Apple device and can download Apple TV+, you can watch their MLB package this season.

Guess what? Friday’s game against the Red Sox is also available for free on your iPhone, your laptop, or your TV simply by downloading the AppleTV app. Amazon will also simulcast all Thursday Night Football games on Twitch for free. It may be a little harder or confusing to find the free options, but they are out there and they are legal and, once again, they are free.

Apple has invested $85 million into baseball, money that will go towards your team becoming better hypothetically. They’ve invested money towards creating a new kind of streaming experience. Why in the hell would they offer YES Network this game for free? There’s no better way for them to drive subscriptions to their product than by offering fans a chance at watching history on their platform.

A moment like this are the main reason Apple paid for rights in the first place. When Apple sees what the NFL has done for Amazon in just one week and coincidentally has the ability to broadcast one of the biggest moments in baseball history – it would be a terrible business decision to let viewers watch it outside of the Apple ecosystem and lose the ability to gain new fans.

It’s time for sports fans to grow up and face reality. Streaming is here to stay. 

MLB Network is another option

If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of watching the Yankees take on the Red Sox for free on Apple TV+, MLB Network will also air all of Judge’s at bats live as they are happening. In case the moment doesn’t happen on Apple TV+ on Friday night, Judge’s next games will air in full on MLB Network (Saturday), ESPN (Sunday), MLB Network again (Monday), TBS (Tuesday) and MLB Network for a third time on Wednesday. All of MLB Network’s games will be simulcast of YES Network’s local New York broadcast. It wouldn’t shock me to see Fox pick up another game next Thursday if the pursuit still maintains national interest.

Quick bites

  • One of the weirdest things about the experience of streaming sports is that you lose the desire to channel surf. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Brandon Ross of LightShed Ventures wonders if the difficulty that comes with going from app to app will help Amazon keep viewers on TNF the entire time no matter what the score of the game is. If it does, Amazon needs to work on developing programming to surround the games or start replaying the games, pre and post shows so that when you fall asleep and wake up you’re still on the same stream on Prime Video or so that coming to Prime Video for sports becomes just as much of a habit for fans as tuning in to ESPN is.
  • CNN has announced the launch of a new morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. Variety reports, “Two people familiar with plans for the show say it is likely to use big Warner Bros. properties — a visit from the cast of HBO’s Succession or sports analysis from TNT’s NBA crew — to lure eyeballs.” It’ll be interesting to see if Turner Sports becomes a cornerstone of this broadcast. Will the NBA start doing schedule releases during the show? Will a big Taylor Rooks interview debut on this show before it appears on B/R? Will the Stanley Cup or Final Four MVP do an interview on CNN’s show the morning after winning the title? Does the show do remote broadcasts from Turner’s biggest sports events throughout the year?
  • The Clippers are back on over the air television. They announced a deal with Nexstar to broadcast games on KTLA and other Nexstar owned affiliates in California. The team hasn’t reached a deal to air games on Bally Sports SoCal or Bally Sports Plus for the upcoming season. Could the Clippers pursue a solo route and start their own OTT service in time for the season? Are they talking to Apple, Amazon, or ESPN about a local streaming deal? Is Spectrum a possible destination? I think these are all possibilities but its likely that the Clippers end up back on Bally Sports since its the status quo. I just find it interesting that it has taken so long to solidify an agreement and that it wasn’t announced in conjunction with the KTLA deal. The Clippers are finally healthy this season, moving into a new arena soon, have the technology via Second Spectrum to produce immersive game casts. Maybe something is brewing?
  • ESPN’s Monday Night Football double box was a great concept. The execution sucked. Kudos to ESPN for adjusting on the fly once complaints began to lodge across social media. I think the double box works as a separate feed. ESPN2 should’ve been the home to the double box. SVP and Stanford Steve could’ve held a watch party from ESPN’s DC studio with special guests. The double box watch party on ESPN2 could’ve been interrupted whenever SVP was giving an update on games for ESPN and ABC. It would give ESPN2 a bit of a behind the scenes look at how the magic happens similarly to what MLB Tonight did last week. Credit to ESPN and the NFL for experimenting and continuing to try and give fans unique experiences.

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BSM Writers

ESPN Shows Foresight With Monday Night Football Doubleheader Timing

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7 and then 10 on their primary channel.

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The Monday Night Football doubleheader was a little bit different this time around for ESPN.

First, it came in Week 2 instead of Week 1. And then, the games were staggered 75 minutes apart on two different channels, the Titans and Bills beginning on ESPN at 7:15 PM ET and the Vikings at the Eagles starting at 8:30 PM on ABC and ESPN+. This was a departure from the usual schedule in which the games kicked off at 7:00 PM ET and then 10:00 PM ET with the latter game on the West Coast.

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7:00 PM and then 10:00 PM ET on their primary channel. That’s the typical approach, right? The NFL is the most valuable offering in all of sports and ESPN would have at least six consecutive hours of live programming without any other game to switch to.

Instead, they staggered the starts so the second game kicked off just before the first game reached halftime. They placed the games on two different channels, which risked cannibalizing their audience. Why? Well, it’s the same reason that ESPN was so excited about the last year’s Manningcast that it’s bringing it back for 10 weeks this season. ESPN is not just recognizing the reality of how their customers behave, but they’re embracing it.

Instead of hoping with everything they have that the customer stays in one place for the duration of the game, they’re recognizing the reality that they will leave and providing another product within their portfolio to be a destination when they do.

It’s the kind of experiment everyone in broadcasting should be investigating because, for all the talk about meeting the customer where they are, we still tend to be a little bit stubborn about adapting to what they do. 

Customers have more choices than ever when it comes to media consumption. First, cable networks softened the distribution advantages of broadcast networks, and now digital offerings have eroded the distribution advantages of cable networks. It’s not quite a free-for-all, but the battle for viewership is more intense, more wide open than ever because that viewer has so many options of not just when and where but how they will consume media.

Programmers have a choice in how to react to this. On the one hand, they can hold on tighter to the existing model and try to squeeze as much out of it as they can. If ESPN was thinking this way it would stack those two Monday night games one after the other just like it always has and hope like hell for a couple of close games to juice the ratings. Why would you make it impossible for your customer to watch both of these products you’ve paid so much to televise?

I’ve heard radio programmers and hosts recite take this same approach for more than 10 years now when it comes to making shows available on-demand. Why would you give your customers the option of consuming the product in a way that’s not as remunerative or in a way that is not measured?

That thinking is outdated and it is dangerous from an economic perspective because it means you’re trying to make the customer behave in your best interest by restricting their choices. And maybe that will work. Maybe they like that program enough that they’ll consume it in the way you’d prefer or maybe they decide that’s inconvenient or annoying or they decide to try something else and now this customer who would have listened to your product in an on-demand format is choosing to listen to someone else’s product entirely.

After all, you’re the only one that is restricting that customer’s choices because you’re the only one with a desire to keep your customer where he is. Everyone else is more than happy to give your customer something else. 

There’s a danger in holding on too tightly to the existing model because the tighter you squeeze, the more customers will slip through your fingers, and if you need a physical demonstration to complete this metaphor go grab a handful of sand and squeeze it hard.

Your business model is only as good as its ability to predict the behavior of your customers, and as soon as it stops doing that, you need to adjust that business model. Don’t just recognize the reality that customers today will exercise the freedom that all these media choices provide, embrace it.

Offer more products. Experiment with more ways to deliver those products. The more you attempt to dictate the terms of your customer’s engagement with your product, the more customers you’ll lose, and by accepting this you’ll open yourself to the reality that if your customer is going to leave your main offering, it’s better to have them hopping to another one of your products as opposed to leaving your network entirely.

Think in terms of depth of engagement, and breadth of experience. That’s clearly what ESPN is doing because conventional thinking would see the Manningcast as a program that competes with the main Monday Night Football broadcast, that cannibalizes it. ESPN sees it as a complimentary experience. An addition to the main broadcast, but it also has the benefit that if the customer feels compelled to jump away from the main broadcast – for whatever reason – it has another ESPN offering that they may land on.

I’ll be watching to see what ESPN decides going forward. The network will have three Monday Night Football doubleheaders beginning next year, and the game times have not been set. Will they line them up back-to-back as they had up until this year? If they do it will be a vote of confidence that its traditional programming approach that evening is still viable. But if they overlap those games going forward, it’s another sign that less is not more when it comes to giving your customers a choice in products.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: Sunday Ticket Has Problems, Marcellus Wiley Does Not

Demetri Ravanos

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On this episode of Media Noise, Demetri is joined by Brian Noe to talk about the wild year FS1’s Marcellus Wiley has had and by Garrett Searight to discuss the tumultuous present and bright future of NFL Sunday Ticket.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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