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Bickley & Marotta: NFL ‘Devalued’ Sport With Thursday Night Football

“It’s just laughable how hypocritical the NFL can be to even stand on the platforms of player safety.”

Derek Futterman

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This week’s Thursday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals was a thriller, ending with Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas coming up with an interception to beat his former team. The highly-anticipated quarterback matchup between 37-year-old veteran Aaron Rodgers and 24-year-old newcomer Kyler Murray kept fans entertained all throughout the contest, despite other star players, such as Green Bay’s Davante Adams and Arizona’s J.J. Watt, being out for the contest.

On Friday morning, Bickley and Marotta on 98.7 Arizona’s Sports Station in Phoenix recapped the primetime contest and let callers give their thoughts and opinions on the Cardinals’ first loss of the season. One caller, who said he drives for a living, mentioned the shortcomings of Thursday Night Football as a product for the National Football League, and how the change in game scheduling for teams ultimately hinders the on-field product.

Thursday Night Football continues to be a disgrace for the NFL,” said the caller Friday morning. “Players aren’t able to play because they don’t get enough rest; they are dropping all over the field. Every Thursday night, it’s the same thing.”

The NFL recently negotiated new media rights deals with various broadcast networks, such as Fox, NBC, and ABC; however, Fox’s contract to broadcast Thursday Night Football, in which they pay $660 million a year to the league, was recently renegotiated to end at the conclusion of this NFL season. According to the Standard Media Index, the average cost of a 30-second advertisement on Fox’s Thursday Night Football broadcasts was just under $500,000, and the league expects to generate even more revenue with its new deal with Amazon Prime. 

Amazon is set to pay $1.32 billion annually to become the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football for the next 11 seasons, the first sole streaming provider to secure a broadcast deal of this magnitude with the National Football League. The subscription-based streaming service seeks to innovate the way sports broadcasts are presented, and will lead what is thought to be a new era in multimedia dissemination.

While having an exclusive, primetime contest makes sense from a logistical standpoint for the NFL in order to maximize ratings and revenue, Bickley and Marotta agree that from a football standpoint, it is not exactly practical in offering the best product on-the-field, sacrificing long-term health and sustainability for short-term gain.

“It’s just laughable how hypocritical the NFL can be to even stand on the platforms of player safety,” said Dan Bickley, co-host of the morning drive program and former columnist at The Arizona Sun. “They’ve just devalued the game.”

While a recent study performed by scholars at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and Northwestern University suggested eliminating Thursday Night Football would not significantly impact the injury rate, fans around the league continue to question the NFL’s commitment to player safety. After all, Thursday Night Football does significantly shorten the practice and ramp-up time for NFL teams who previously played in a Sunday contest that calendar week.

Referencing a dangerous play that happened in the game, co-host Vince Marotta echoed Bickley’s sentiments, saying the league continues to be duplicitous in its commitment to protecting the players.

“Immediately prior [to the dangerous play] happening was a public service announcement [about] how important players safety is,” said Marotta, “and I thought to myself, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ And it really hits home when it’s a team you’re invested in [playing] on Thursday Night Football.”

Thursday Night Football broadcasts will continue on Fox for the remainder of the 2021 NFL season before shifting to Amazon Prime a year earlier than originally anticipated. Streaming is largely thought of as the future of watching live sports, and with the move, the National Football League will attract and draw a new audience to platforms such as Amazon Prime to watch the game’s best go at it in prime time for 15 regular season games — even if it superficially augments the risk for the occurrence of injuries before, during or after the game.

Sports Radio News

ESPN Radio 94.1 Sells Station Naming Rights To Priority Automotive Group

“The programming on the station does not change.”

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Max Media has found an interesting new revenue stream in Virginia Beach. ESPN Radio 94.1 has sold its naming rights. The station has rebranded as Priority Auto Sports Radio 94.1.

“This is an important partnership for us,” said Priority Automotive COO Matt Elmer. “At Priority Automotive we think sports ties everyone together, so this is a great opportunity for us to be a voice in the community and partner with the number one voice for sports in Hampton Roads, ESPN 94.1.”

The programming on the station does not change. Listeners in the 757 will still hear the nationally syndicated ESPN Radio lineup except for in afternoon drive when The Tim Donnelly Show is on the air.

“The partnership between ESPN 94.1 and Priority Automotive is a natural evolution for both companies,” President and Market Manager Keith Barton added. “From the many youth organizations to college teams, Priority Automotive Has been dedicated to sports in Hampton Roads for decades. Max Media is incredibly proud to be partnered with such a class organization.”

Priority Automotive owns 17 car dealerships across Virginia.

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Sports Radio News

SiriusXM Plots Super Bowl LVII Coverage

“SiriusXM will deliver fans around the country the unique mix of sports, music and entertainment programming that you can only find on SiriusXM.”

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SiriusXM has announced its extensive plans for coverage of Super Bowl LVII and the events leading up to the big game.

A dedicated Super Bowl pop-up channel on SiriusXM Channel 104 will be just one of the avenues SiriusXM plans to cover the event. Amber Theoharis will conduct interviews with players, and personalities making their way through Radio Row throughout the week that will air on the pop-up channel.

Mad Dog Sports Radio will have a large presence on Radio Row, with shows hosted by Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Adam Schein, Dusty Dvoracek, Danny Kanell, and Steve Torre all airing live on location in Arizona. Former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall will be on hand to host I Am Athlete Tonight from the event, as well.

“With all eyes and ears focused on Phoenix for Super Bowl Week, SiriusXM will deliver fans around the country the unique mix of sports, music and entertainment programming that you can only find on SiriusXM,” said SiriusXM President and Chief Content Officer Scott Greenstein.

“With multiple game broadcasts, several channels in Phoenix covering the latest news and providing expert analysis on the teams, interviews with many of the celebrities in town for the game, and our exclusive concert with Luke Combs, our subscribers will have exceptional access throughout the biggest week on the NFL calendar.”

ESPNU Radio hosts Colt McCoy, Rick Neuheisel, and Max Starks will also be in Arizona on Radio Row, in addition to Dusty and Danny hosting their shows each day from Radio Row.

Fantasy football expert Jeff Mans and SportsGrid Radio host Scott Ferrall will also originate content from Radio Row.

SiriusXM will offer four different game broadcasts of Super Bowl LVII. The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles home broadcasts will each air, as will the national Westwood One call. Additionally, a Spanish-language broadcast will also be provided. Listeners will also be able to hear the halftime show — performed by pop star Rihanna — on Sirius XM Hits 1, The Heat, and Super Bowl LVII Radio.

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Sports Radio News

BetQL Network Going to Arizona for Super Bowl Week

“Three shows will be at the BetMGM Sportsbook in Glendale.”

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BetQL is headed to Radio Row. Audacy’s sports betting radio network will be in Arizona ahead of Super Bowl LVII. 

Three shows will be at the BetMGM Sportsbook in Glendale. BetQL Daily and You Better You Bet will be live Monday through Friday. BetMGM Tonight will be live Monday through Thursday.

The network’s hosts will stay busy in the desert. BetQL is producing 52 hours of live audio and video content. Hosts are also scheduled to make 25 live appearances across other Audacy radio stations and digital channels.

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