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John Fricke: ‘9th Game Is Too Valuable To ESPN For SEC Not To Rush Expansion’

“They don’t want to pay for Georgia versus, you know, pick a team, Liberty. They want to pay for Georgia versus Ole Miss.”

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When Texas and Oklahoma finally join the SEC, it is expected that the conference’s football schedule will expand from each team playing eight games to each team playing nine. According to John Fricke, that expansion and the payoff that will come with it should be front and center during the league’s meetings in Destin, Florida this week.

“Whatever happens in Destin will change college football forever,” he said Tuesday morning on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta. “The question is at what level.”

Producer Abe Gordon objected to Fricke’s idea that the league could get the Longhorns and Sooners into the conference in time for the 2023 football season. The two schools would owe a significant buyout check to their current conference, the Big 12.

Fricke countered by saying that ESPN knows the value the two schools would bring to the league. A sixteen-team SEC would give each conference member a payout big enough to justify cutting a big one-time check to speed the process along.

Adding two more teams would force the SEC to rethink its current schedule and divisions. Fricke says ESPN, which will take over all of the television rights to SEC sports in 2024, is ready to pony up for anything that means one more in-conference football game each year.

“They don’t want to pay for Georgia versus, you know, pick a team, Liberty. They want to pay for Georgia versus Ole Miss. So ESPN is saying ‘you give us that extra week of conference games and the number we are going to pay you goes up exponentially because it’s an extra week of games, SEC games that get millions of people watching.”

John Fricke told his partner Hugh Douglas that he isn’t predicting when the conference will make the additions of Texas and Oklahoma official. He just doesn’t see the financial roadblocks that others have implied exist.

“The SEC is ready to move along,” he said. “Maybe the league just floats them the money because they could. They could say ‘You have a $30 million buyout? Fine, everybody will chip in because we’re all gonna make so much more money. We’ll help with the buyout to get you into the league.”

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Sports Radio News

SURVEY: 16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming

The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

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Streaming Radio

According to Nielsen, All Sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.

The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in its latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets

The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.

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Sports Radio News

New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend

More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

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MLB Radio

When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.

In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.

Radio Listeners to MLB

Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.

Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time

Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

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Jeff Dean Show

Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:

“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

Jeff Dean Facebook

Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”

Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.

Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.

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