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Matt Fishman and ESPN Cleveland Are Creating Content Everywhere

“Podcasts may get all the headlines, but live radio drives all the revenue.”

Derek Futterman

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You get the news that you have been cut from the high school baseball team. Sure, there’s disappointment, but that innate love of the game never genuinely wavers. For Matt Fishman, he was able to revitalize his aspirations between the foul lines with a RadioShack tape recorder just outside of them as his team’s play-by-play announcer.

“I’m sure my voice hadn’t changed yet,” reminisced Fishman, “so [it] was probably nice and high-pitched to go along with the ping of the aluminum bats.”

Matt Fishman Named Dir./Content At WKNR (850 ESPN Cleveland) | AllAccess.com

Since his junior year of high school, Fishman’s radio journey has taken him from Chicago to Cleveland, terrestrial to digital and from inside the batter’s box to out on the racetrack. Throughout his journey, Fishman has seen sports radio evolve from an avant-garde sector of talk to a well-established radio format, and has observed existential similarities in programming across different markets.

“It’s the ability to take some of the things that are the same everywhere, which is having a great team that’s motivated, interested in having a great product and interested in doing the work that goes into that,” said Fishman. “The actual programming part of it is different in each place because of different fanbases, and what they’re interested in. It’s common for programmers to go into a market and want to change a lot of things, but I think they should really understand the audience in the market before making any changes.”

After spending nearly a decade at 670 The Score Chicago, Fishman spent a year as the program director of 610 KCSP Kansas City, where he oversaw day-to-day operations and hired CBS Sports Radio personality Damon Amendolara from a nationwide talent search. Then in 2005, Fishman was hired to oversee the MLB Channel, part of the SiriusXM satellite radio network, with a completely different business model than that of 850 ESPN Cleveland, where he works today.

“SiriusXM didn’t have ratings when I was there, so you really weren’t ever concerned about the current rating book, the next rating book, etc.,” explained Fishman. “You really were interested in maintaining the subscriber. The primary source of money for SiriusXM is in the subscriptions, while for us [at 850 ESPN Cleveland], if we don’t have advertising partners, we don’t have jobs.”

The ratings are something that 850 ESPN Cleveland currently forbears utilizing to guide it in making programming decisions, a decision that Fishman explains is due to the established system’s inability to depict the entire story.

“There are a million stories about every radio station, and the question is if the value of the Nielsen ratings, which have become extremely expensive, [are] worth the cost you are putting in to it, or [if you] would rather put that money in making your content better by adding different staff, technology, shows, etc.,” said Fishman. “I think for Good Karma Brands as a company, we’re not overly interested in what the ratings are in the sense that we do everything for fans, for our partners and for our teammates. If it doesn’t fit into one or multiple of those buckets, it’s not important to us and we’re not going to do it.”

Based on this triumvirate of stakeholders, Fishman has operated with several principles at the forefront, indicative of what is in their best interests. These include the development of a strategy, ensuring everyone on the team understands and has the ability to execute that strategy and to steadily improve in all areas of sports radio. By adhering to these core principles, he hopes to position the station to realize sustained levels of success.

“[Success] is sustained by the ability to develop younger, less-experienced talent on your team so you don’t end up with a radio station where, on any day, all of your main hosts could retire and you’re stuck building it back up from scratch,” said Fishman. “I think it’s two-fold; number one — it’s supporting the team and the shows we have now and making them as strong as possible; and also knowing that the less-experienced on-air people need to continuously get reps and be developed so that when their day comes, they’ll be ready.”

In finding talent, Fishman serves in a role akin to a baseball scout in that he seeks and helps to develop budding broadcasters into sustainable, on-air personalities. While he does not see distinct differences in on-air talent from when he began in radio in the mid-90s to today, he realizes the value that lies in versatility, and the ability to perform multiple roles at a high level. However, he also warns of the precarious mistakes younger, naïve broadcasters have and continue to make by not thinking about what they post on social media, ultimately costing some their jobs.

“Being digitally savvy is probably the biggest difference [in talent] between [from when I started] to now,” expressed Fishman. “The other issue is people having to be careful about what they say because it doesn’t just go out on the radio and go away forever — someone can pick it up on social media where they live forever. With a microphone in front of them, hosts know not to say stupid or offensive things, but on Twitter, I’m not sure everyone has learned that yet.”

The digital space is a place Fishman has continued to pioneer, as the Twitter account for 850 ESPN Cleveland currently holds the most followers among all local sports radio stations on the platform. It’s a whole lot more than just the 206,000-strong that follow the station on Twitter constituting the digital space for sports on the radio in Cleveland though; they also own and operate their own on-demand subscription platform.

Known as “The Land on Demand,” patrons can subscribe to the website to receive not just aural, but also visual and written content pertaining to Cleveland sports. In fact, Tony Grossi, a multi-faceted radio personality and on-air host covering the Cleveland Browns for the last 35 years, writes exclusive columns and frequently contributes his knowledge and expertise to various podcasts within the medium.

The Land on Demand header - Awful Announcing

“It’s great to have Twitter followers, but I don’t know what that means financially,” said Fishman. “If I have ‘X’ numbers of subscribers at $85 a year, I can tell you what that amounts to [in terms of] return on investment. From a digital [perspective], that’s where we are.”

Prior to joining 850 ESPN Cleveland, Fishman wrote a weekly column for Barrett Sports Media containing insights and advice into sports radio, an emancipatory period in his professional career that he fondly looks back upon and uses to help guide him in his present role.

“It was the only time in my career that I wasn’t working in radio,” said Fishman, “so it gave me freedom to write about anything and not worry [if I was] going to piss my bosses off. [Writing] allowed me to take on different subjects and tackle them by myself or through interviews with people in the business. I built some relationships with people just by having conversations with them about different topics, ideas or things that I was writing about.”

While reminiscing about his time with Barrett Sports Media, Fishman remembered conversations he had with various sports radio personnel, including Paul Finnebaum, Dan Bernstein, Terry Boers, and, one of his favorites, Mark Packer, radio host on SiriusXM and television host on the ACC Network.

“Mark is the best storyteller that I’ve ever heard in sports radio,” said Fishman. “He can tell any story about anything and make it entertaining and interesting, and it always has a little twist to it at some point. I loved everyone I talked to and really enjoyed getting to know a lot of people who I’d maybe heard of or knew things about; how they are unique is what makes them successful.”

Cleveland sports, undoubtedly, is full of stories with twists and turns that would surely captivate any willing listener. “The Decision,” when LeBron James left Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat; Kyrie Irving’s debut in 2011; the infamous Johnny Manziel pick by the Browns in 2014; the Cleveland Indians’ game seven World Series loss to the Chicago Cubs; the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, bringing a championship to the city for the first time in 52 years; the Indians’ 22-game winning streak in 2017; the Cleveland Browns’ winless 2017 season and 19-game overall losing streak; Baker Mayfield being drafted by the Browns; LeBron James’ departure of Cleveland again for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now though, with the Cleveland Browns snapping an 18-year playoff drought in 2020-21 and winning a first-round game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, professional football is once again on the rise in the Forest City. Conversely, the Cavaliers and Indians (soon to be renamed “Cleveland Guardians”) are in a rebuilding period, developing young talent in a quest to reign as champions. So, after one protracted trip down memory lane, how does sports radio in Cleveland continue to draw an audience despite the differing status of these teams? Just like a professional baseball scout, it lies in empirical observation.

“You reflect what the audience’s interest is,” answered Fishman. “Most of the interest is around the Browns right now because there are high expectations. We think the Cavaliers and Indians both have very bright futures ahead of them [but] the Browns’ time is now.”

Despite teams in different stages of their championship trajectories, Fishman has always remembered that what makes the sports talk radio format distinct from other formats and other platforms is in its nascent spirit of conviviality.

“I think the one thing that gets lost on some sports radio stations is that our job is to have fun and make people laugh and smile,” said Fishman. “The ability to tie in the sports with fun interesting topics, guests, bits, contests, etc. is just a great way to keep people engaged.”

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Remember, Matt Fishman’s radio journey began as a result of being cut from his high school baseball team. In a crowded media landscape with new, contemporary platforms for the purposes of gathering information and being entertained, Fishman says that sports radio needs to stay true to itself in order to continue to stand out, while also finding ways to stay ahead of the pack. Namely, he is helping to prevent it, as a format, from being cut away from the consumer’s metaphorical sports media ‘field of dreams.’

“Sports radio has so many advantages that it shouldn’t run away from: embracing play-by-play; embracing unique talent; embracing live; embracing local,” opined Fishman. “Podcasts may get all the headlines, but live radio drives all the revenue. [By being] true to itself and true to its fans, sports radio can be just fine.”

BSM Writers

Beyond The Mask: Henrik Lundqvist Embraced 2nd Career in Sports Media

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal.”

Derek Futterman

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Plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, Henrik Lundqvist found himself beneath the bright lights once again, poised to put on a worthy performance. Just as he aimed to stop pucks from going in the net as the star goaltender of the New York Rangers for 15 seasons, Lundqvist sought to captivate viewers as half of a musical duo featuring former NHL forward Paul Bissonnette.

Their performance of “Good Riddance” by Green Day was in tribute to Rick Tocchet, a former NHL on TNT studio analyst who recently departed the network to serve as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Lundqvist serves as a studio analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NHL, breaking down players and teams throughout the broadcast and bringing his own unique style to the set. His pursuit of a post-playing career in sports media was no guarantee from the moment he retired in August 2021; in fact, he never intended to stop playing the game and competing for a Stanley Cup championship at that time.

During the 2019-20 season, Lundqvist had lost playing time to young goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, and by the year’s end, his deal was bought out by the team. In an effort to continue playing, Lundqvist signed a contract with the Washington Capitals – marking the first time in his NHL career that he would not step between the pipes for the Rangers.

Lundqvist never played a game for the team though, as it was discovered in a medical exam that he would need open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve while also having an aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. Less than two months after the successful five-hour operation, he was back on the ice rehabbing and attempting to make a full recovery – but a few months in, he began to feel unexpected chest pain. Following a medical checkup, Lundqvist was told he had inflammation around his heart. It was a significant setback that required him to step off the ice, take off his goaltender equipment and rest for several months.

After discussions with his family and friends, Lundqvist determined that the risk of taking the ice outweighed the rewards and officially stepped away from the game. Rather than conjuring hypothetical scenarios wherein he did not experience the misfortune and played for the Capitals, Lundqvist looked to the future amid the ongoing global pandemic and thought about how he could best enjoy his retirement.

“I was just mentally in a very good place,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a choice; I guess that makes it easier sometimes when the decision is made because you can’t go back-and-forth – ‘Should I?’ ‘Should I not?’ Yeah, I wanted to play but it was just not meant to be for me.”

Before any definitive resolution on his future endeavors was made though, the Rangers announced that the team would retire Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony during the 2021-22 season, making him just the 11th player bestowed that honor in franchise history. As a five-time NHL All-Star selection, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, and holder of numerous franchise records, Lundqvist had the accolades to merit this profound distinction.

Moreover, he was an important component in growing the game of hockey and contributing to the greater community, serving as the official spokesperson for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. He also was a two-time recipient of the organization’s prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, honoring the player “who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Throughout the night, attendees regaled Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-rik!” and were treated to flashbacks of some of his memorable career moments. The night was of monumental importance for Lundqvist, during which he expressed his gratitude to the Rangers’ organization, former teammates and fans. Then, Lundqvist — referred to as “The King” — promptly took his place among team legends beneath the concave ceiling of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

“When I look back at my career, I know, to me, it was all about preparation; how I practiced and how I prepared for each game at practice,” Lundqvist said. “There’s no regrets, and I hope people, when they think about how I played, [know] that it was 100% heart and commitment to the game.”

Before this ceremony though, Lundqvist and Rangers owner James Dolan had held several meetings with one another. The purpose of these conversations was to determine the best way for Lundqvist to remain involved with the team, its fans, and the community. In the end, he was named as a lead studio analyst on MSG Networks’ broadcasts of New York Rangers hockey before the start of the 2021-22 season: the start of his foray in sports media.

This past summer, Lundqvist negotiated a new deal with Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment in which he maintained his in-studio responsibilities while increasing involvement in other areas of its sports and entertainment ventures. In this new role, Lundqvist supports the business operations for both companies, assisting in digital content development, alumni relations, and partner and sponsor activities.

When Lundqvist is not in the studio or the office, he can often be found at Madison Square Garden taking in New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, or one of the arena’s renowned musical performances. Usually, when he is in attendance, he is shown on the arena’s center-hung video board as an “NYC Celebrity” and receives a thunderous ovation from the crowd.

“The network is just part of it, but it feels great to come there,” Lundqvist said of Madison Square Garden. “Every time I go there – to see the people that I’ve known for so long – but also I love that place; I love The Garden. I think the energy [and] the variety of things that happen there is something I really appreciate. It feels really good to be a part of that.”

Sitting alongside former teammate and studio analyst Steve Valiqutte and sportscaster John Giannone, Lundqvist appears in the MSG Networks studios, located across the street from the arena, for select New York Rangers games. From the onset, he brought his allure and expertise to the set and appealed to viewers – so much so that national networks quickly began to take notice.

“I enjoy watching hockey [and] talking hockey, but the main thing to me is the team; the people that you work with,” Lundqvist said. “The guys on the panel [and the] crew behind. I really enjoy that part of it and having a lot of fun off-camera.”

One month later, Lundqvist was on his first national broadcast for the NHL on TNT where he and Bissonnette famously performed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica that went viral on social media. It had been known that Lundqvist was a musician, famously performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in his Rangers uniform to celebrate the end of the 2012-13 NHL lockout.

In fact, during his retirement ceremony, the Rangers gifted him with a custom-made guitar painted by David Gunnarsson, the same artist who used to paint Lundqvist’s goalie masks.

Aside from occasional music performances, Lundqvist brings an esoteric base of knowledge to the NHL on TNT panel as its only goaltender. Whether it be through player breakdowns, interviews, or dialogue with other analysts, Lundqvist has a perspective to which few professional hockey players can relate. There are various goaltenders among local studio panels surrounding live hockey game broadcasts, and Lundqvist is in a unique situation with MSG Networks in that he and Valiquette are both former goaltenders. Yet on Turner Sports’ national coverage, he is the only voice speaking to this different part of the game.

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal,” Lundqvist explained. “Yes, you need to stop the puck, but a huge part of being a goalie is analyzing what’s going on. We can never really dictate the play so you need to analyze what’s happening right in front of you.”

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In broadcasting at both the local and national level, Lundqvist is cognizant of the differences in each network’s studio programs. Lundqvist says appearing on the MSG Networks studio panel is more about being direct with the viewer, whereas the NHL on TNT views its panel as being conversational in nature. With Turner Sports, Lundqvist also asks his colleagues about the different teams around the league since he is most familiar with the Rangers both as a former player and studio analyst.

“I’m closer to the Rangers; I see more of what’s going on,” Lundqvist stated. “When you work [national] games, maybe you focus in on teams on the West Coast or [part] of the league you don’t see as often. You try to talk to the other guys on the panel and the crew and figure out things that are interesting about those teams.”

Hockey is a team sport, and Lundqvist felt grateful to play with his teammates and face his competitors over the years. Now as an analyst though, it is his job to analyze their games and critique them when necessary; however, he does not try to be excessively critical.

Lundqvist knows the trials and tribulations associated with the sport and can relate to scenarios many players face on a nightly basis. Therefore, he thinks about his own experience before giving an opinion, especially a critique, instantiating it with comprehensible, recondite knowledge and/or by recounting a similar situation.

“I’d much rather give them positive feedback obviously because I know it is a tough game,” Lundqvist said, “and sometimes it might look like an easy mistake, but if you can give the viewer a better explanation of why he did that, they might have a different view of that mistake.”

Now metaphorically being beyond the goalie mask, Lundqvist’s vision of the game has evidently shifted. He discerns just how intense the schedule is and the rapid pace of the game, axioms he was aware of while playing but inherently avoided thinking about. He has implemented his refined viewpoint of the game accordingly into his analysis, simultaneously utilizing the mindset and savvy he cultivated on the ice. It is, quite simply, a balancing act.

“I think people can be pretty quick to jump on guys and critique them,” Lundqvist said. “That’s where maybe you take an extra look and try to understand why it happened and give those reasons. I think that’s where it helps if you played the game [for] a long time and just love the game [because] you have a pretty good understanding of why guys react a certain way.”

The challenge tacitly embedded in the jobs of most studio analysts – Lundqvist’s included – is in presenting the information to the audience in a manner through which it learns without being confused. It is a delicate craft that takes time and genuine understanding to master, especially related to promulgating hockey analytics as Valiquette does on MSG Networks and within his company, Clear Sight Analytics.

“There’s a lot of educated viewers out there, but there’s also a lot of people that maybe don’t watch as much hockey,” Lundqvist said, “so you want to find that middle ground where you kind of educate both sides.”

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By broadcasting both locally and nationally in addition to working in a specially-designed business operations role, Lundqvist is staying around the rink in his retirement while facilitating the growth of hockey. Despite the profusion of young talent, dynamic action and jaw-dropping plays, viewership of the sport on ESPN and TNT’s linear channels has dropped 22% from last season, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.

For Lundqvist though, he does not feel much has changed from playing regarding his responsibility to advance the reach and appeal of the sport. He played professionally for 20 years, beginning his career in his home country of Sweden, primarily in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In the 2004-05 season, his final campaign before arriving in New York City, Lundqvist had won the award for most valuable player. Furthermore, he was recognized as the best goalie and best player, leading Frölunda HC to its second Elitserien championship in three seasons.

His NHL debut came five years after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers but unlike many rookies over the years, he came polished and prepared to embrace the lights of Broadway. Following an injury to starting goaltender Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was inserted into the starting lineup and, from that moment on, virtually never came out.

By the end of his first year, he had been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goaltender. Additionally, he remains the only goaltender to begin his NHL career with seven consecutive 30-plus win seasons.

“I think the league is doing a great job of growing the game,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to the product and right now, it’s a great product. I feel really good about, the best way I can, to promote the game [by] talking about it, but… it feels like I’ve been doing that for 20 years.”

One means through which Lundqvist attempts to grow the game is within the studio demos he performs with the NHL on TNT, displaying different facets of the game in a technical manner. The show also embraces the characteristics of their analysts and implements them in lighthearted segments, such as zamboni races, putting competitions, Swedish lessons and, of course, musical performances.

“I’m huge on mindset and the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “I love to talk about that type of stuff and give the viewer a better understanding of what goes through their heads. In terms of personality, I don’t know if I can say [that] I’m a serious guy because I love to have fun and laugh and do fun things.”

Lundqvist thoroughly enjoys what he is doing both locally and nationally, and he ensures he surrounds himself with people he wants to be around. There are plenty of other broadcast opportunities for former hockey players, such as moving into the booth as a color commentator or between the benches as a rinkside reporter. At this moment though, he is more focused on being immersed in his current roles, performing them to the best of his ability while ensuring he allocates time to spend with friends and family.

“I see myself more as an analyst in the studio more than traveling around and being in the rink,” he said. “I think that’s another thing with the schedule; it works really well with my schedule to have one or two commitments with the networks, but then I have other things going on in my life that I commit to.”

Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between playing professional hockey and covering the sport from the studio in terms of preparation and synergy. Yet the end result is not as clearly defined since “winning” in television is quantifiably defined as generating ratings and revenue. Undoubtedly, Lundqvist is focused on doing what he can to bolster hockey’s popularity; however, he also wants to enjoy this new phase of his career being around the game he loves.

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“In sports, you win or you lose,” Lundqvist explained. “With TV, you want to be yourself [and] you want to get your point out – but at the same time, if you do it at the same time you’re having a good time, I feel like that’s good TV.”

Once their careers conclude, many athletes think about pursuing a post-playing career and oftentimes end up taking on a role in sports broadcasting. On MSG Networks alone, there are plenty of former players who take part in studio coverage on live game broadcasts, such as Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils, and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders. At the national level, Turner Sports employs Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Wayne Gretzky for its studio broadcasts, while ESPN’s top studio crew includes Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.

All of these former professional hockey players had an obligation to regularly speak with media members, answering questions about games and the season at large. Lundqvist maintained a professional relationship with journalists and beat reporters, and he most enjoyed taking questions when the team was doing well. Regardless of what the end result of a game was though, he had a responsibility to divulge his thoughts and, in turn, be subject to criticism and/or negative feedback.

His stellar career and persona all came from emanating a passion for the game – and it continues to manifest itself beyond the television screen. Listening to those passionate about the game discuss it usually engenders euphony and lucidity to viewers, analogous to the sound of the puck hitting the pads or entering the glove. It is a timbre Lundqvist created 27,076 times throughout his NHL career (regular season and playoffs) in preventing goals, and one he now aims to explain en masse.

“The reason why I kept going to the rink and put all the hours in was because I really enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “If you decide to go into media or whatever it might be, I think the bottom line is [that] you have to enjoy it and make sure you have good people around you.”

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BSM Writers

Should the NBA Nationalize Local TV Rights Like MLS?

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

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Diamond Sports has been anything but a diamond in the sports world. As subscribers leave cable and satellite for streaming services, companies are dropping RSNs nationwide because they are too expensive to carry. This has caused an impending bankruptcy for the company, which owns the local rights to dozens of sports teams nationwide. It is also putting the NBA, NHL, and MLB at major financial risk. 

In the short term, it is known that teams will still broadcast on their RSNs even if they aren’t getting the paychecks they were promised in previous rights deals. This will affect teams’ ability to pay players and could even create an unfair advantage among the haves of the sports world like the Yankees and Lakers and the have-nots. The NFL doesn’t face the same problems that the other leagues are facing because its rights have been nationalized.

With the NFL’s continued television dominance, college conferences also bundling up games together for more money, and the MLS guaranteeing themselves television revenue after packaging local and national rights together, could we see the other leagues follow suit? It is an option that is much easier said than done but it seems like we are moving closer to it becoming reality. 

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

The biggest problem the NBA and other leagues would face are that the local rights to all of its teams don’t expire at the same time. If the league were to sign a deal that included giving all local rights to a streamer, the amount which the league was getting paid would be very unique year after year. It would be crazy for a streamer to pay a huge chunk of money to the NBA all at once if the number of teams they have local rights to changes every year.

It would also be insane to pay an astronomical amount if the streamer is only getting the local rights to small-market teams like the Cavs and the Pistons. A major market team like the Lakers doesn’t renew their local rights until 2032. We’re still in 2023. How does that affect the league’s operating costs? 

The NBA would also have to figure out whether teams whose rights don’t expire yet deserve to be included in the pot of money garnered from selling local rights to a streamer. Whether they are or they aren’t, does it put each team at different competitive advantages and/or disadvantages when trying to acquire free agents or front-office personnel?

One of the most interesting puzzles to figure out is what influence a league owner like Washington’s Ted Leonsis has in this potential measure when all is said and done. Leonsis just acquired complete control of the regional sports network — currently named NBC Sports Washington — that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games for millions of dollars, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.

What does Leonsis do with his network if his team’s games can no longer air there? Can his team opt out of participating in a potential league offering? Or if the games continue to air on his network but are simulcasted locally on the streamer that wins local rights on a national scale, does the streamer have the ability to pay less money for rights?

If so, does that make the deal as lucrative for the NBA? And what does that mean for retransmission fees that cable companies like Comcast pay to Leonsis and other RSNs they’re still carrying?

The league will face a similar problem with the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks and other franchises that either wholly own or partially own a part of the RSNs where they broadcast their games. 

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions which is why they are written here in this column. Unfortunately for the leagues, they don’t have the answers either. But if the NBA figures out a way to nationalize their product even more and make streaming games more appealing by ending local blackouts, it’ll benefit the game more than it hurts the game. 

NBA, NHL, and MLB games are still some of the highest-rated programs locally in many markets when you look at how they rate vs. other cable and broadcast offerings. But at this point, the ability to charge everyone for a program that only ten percent of subscribers are watching is a losing business proponent.

The leagues should start from scratch and sell a mass package of games for maximum profit. It gives fans a more centralized location to watch their favorite teams and puts the leagues on a much more steady path than where they could be headed sooner rather than later.

Diamond in the rough to sparkling jewel of light? Only time will tell.

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BSM Writers

Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?

“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”

Jeff Caves

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Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on! 

We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.

“I HAVE A JOB.”

With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon. 

I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”

You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far. 

Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service,  AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker. 

I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”

Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard. 

“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”

In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.  

I HAVE COMPETITION!”

That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.  

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