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Can Name, Image and Likeness Deals Make Sports Radio Better?

“If there is money to be made, players could see the benefits of learning how to be interesting and entertaining.”

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Stories about opportunities for college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness have been a dime a dozen over the past two months. It’s still a novel thing. Players used to only be able to take payment in the shadows or through multiple intermediaries. Now, it is all out in the open, and that is interesting to all of us that cover and love college football.

There have already been some really interesting partnerships. Miami quarterback D’Eriq King is endorsing the Florida Panthers. Wright’s BBQ in Fayetteville, Arkansas is sponsoring the Razorbacks’ entire offensive line. Dr. Pepper is building a national ad campaign around Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei.

Clemson's DJ Uiagalelei signs endorsement deal with Dr. Pepper
Courtesy: Vayner Sports

Sports radio stations and podcasts have been paying college football insiders for interviews during the season forever. Now that those payments can go directly to players, it was really only a matter of time before some group announced that would be their move.

Enter The Next Round, the new digital venture from the former morning hosts at Birmingham’s JOX 94.5. They tweeted on Monday that Alabama and Auburn fans would hear from their team’s biggest stars during the season. Mondays would feature Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. Thursdays it will be Alabama wide receiver John Metchie.

“Bo is an obvious choice, he’s the starting quarterback and the most talked about player at Auburn by a longshot,” host Ryan Brown told me when I asked how they decided who was the best investment in terms of creating interesting content. “We have conducted several interviews with John Metchie and really liked what he brought to us in an interview. We felt as though we had a really good chemistry with him.”

What will be so fascinating as radio and digital shows go down this path is exactly where the money will be. Birmingham routinely delivers some of the best TV ratings for college football in the entire country. Are mid-size Southern markets like that where there will be the best chance for players to make money?

Think about it. Even in Atlanta, where college football is huge, would an interview with JT Daniels or one of Georgia’s other popular players be worth the money to the station or interviewer? There is so much going on and the city is so full of transplants that it tends to be the pro teams that are the unifiers. The same is probably true in Cleveland. Ohio loves the Buckeyes, but does it make sense to pay for some of Chris Olave’s time if more of the audience wants to talk and hear about the Browns?

For the markets where the investment makes sense though, it can pay dividends in terms of listeners and revenue. That is why Brown calls it “the biggest game-changer in that realm in the entire time I’ve been doing shows.”

“Keep in mind, when I first started in sports media, back in my radio days, you couldn’t even interview SEC players live,” he says. “All interviews had to be pre-recorded and scheduled through the school media relations department.”

Athletes, especially college athletes, have never really done anything for me on air. Either they are from a program, like Alabama or Notre Dame, that invests so much money in teaching the players to say nothing, or they are 18 and 19 year old kids that, even with a little freedom, just have nothing interesting to say.

Maybe that changes now. No one wants to listen to a ten-minute interview that is nothing but coach-approved platitudes. If no one wants to hear it, no one is going to pay for it either. If there is money to be made, players could see the benefits of learning how to be interesting and entertaining.

It isn’t just the players that stand to make money. When we talk about name, image and likeness deals, our minds tend to go straight to the money being paid. We rarely think about the money being generated. Paying an athlete for their time means there is a level of reliability that you can then take to an advertiser. Suddenly, there is a new benchmark you can price at a premium.

“The players get a nice payday for 10 minutes on the phone, or in our case on video. We have a very attractive sellable product that can be a good revenue generator,” says Ryan Brown. The Next Round has sold Nix’s and Metchie’s appearances to local heavy equipment rental company CraneWorks. I don’t really see a loser in this whole deal.”

Courtesy: Next Round Live

There will be a segment of the sports media that spends this entire colege football season wringing its hands over the damage NIL deals can do to the sport. They are going to focus on what will change for the worse. Smart hosts and companies will figure out how the new landscape can work for everyone.

It’s not just about what goes on the air today. Imagine using a name, image and likeness deal to secure time with a local star that doesn’t make it to the NFL. If he is good on air, don’t you then have a potential building block for your future already on the payroll?

There are so many ways to make this work. As Brown told me, “It is literally a situation where we all win.”

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BSM Writers

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.”

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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.

Global Is Cool': The Growing Appeal of Premier League Soccer in America
Courtesy: Morning Consult

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.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 45

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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.

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BSM Writers

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.”

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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?

A Pot of Gold Articles - Analyzing Metals
Courtesy: iStockphoto

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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