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Tim Kurkjian: MLB Knows It Will Take Time To Grow British Fanbase

“It doesn’t mean that we’re going to have a team in London within five years or that the Brits are going to love baseball within the next ten years.”

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Major League Baseball didn’t go to London this weekend as a one-off. Tim Kurkjian says that the league is very serious about the potential it sees for the game to find a fanbase in Europe.

“Granted, there were a lot of Cubs fans and a lot of Cardinal fans there,” he told Dan Patrick of the 54,000 fans that came out to the games. “But there were a lot of people in Great Britain that are starting to be interested in this.”

Kurkjian says that the league has seen what the NFL and NBA have done with their international games. The NFL, in particular, has had success with an annual presence in London.

The ESPN analyst says Major League Baseball is being realistic with its timetable for creating British fans.

“It’s going to take some time. It’s a soccer country, obviously, but whenever you can put on a game with that much energy to it, and both teams were like that, it’s good for the game.”

The NFL’s success has led to speculation that the league would like to have a team playing their full-time. Kurkjian says those conversations are far off and probably even entirely unlikely for baseball.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re going to have a team in London within five years or that the Brits are going to love baseball within the next ten years. But it’s always good to take the game somewhere else.”

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Bob Fescoe: Charles Barkley is Irreplaceable

“How many people want to do that as well, just kind of walk away and say, ‘You know what? I put in my time and I am done here, and now I have the ability to walk away…'”

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Bob Fescoe
Courtesy: 610 Sports Radio

Charles Barkley announced that he would be retiring from television following the 2024-25 season on Saturday night. The TNT Sports analyst revealed the news during a postgame show on NBA TV after Game 4 of the NBA Finals, in which the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Boston Celtics to remain standing in the best-of-seven series. Within his discourse, Barkley emphasized that he made the decision himself and that next year would be his last no matter what happens.

Moreover, he stated that he has talked with other networks who have approached him as reports indicate that Warner Bros. Discovery could be losing broadcasting rights for the NBA following next season. Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler played the audio of Barkley’s retirement announcement on 610 Sports Radio during the Fescoe in the Morning program on Monday.

Barkley emphasized that he would pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or Steve Smith when he retires from television next year. For the last 24 years, Barkley has been a member of Inside the NBA, the award-winning studio program hosted by Ernie Johnson with analysts Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Shaquille O’Neal. There were rumors about Barkley leaving Warner Bros. Discovery to take a role with the LIV Golf Tour; however, he decided to cut off those talks and stated that he would finish his television career with the Turner Sports division.

The NBA is now reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights contracts with The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC), NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video said to be worth a collective $7.6 billion. Throughout the process, Barkley has been interviewed several times across different media platforms and expressed his feelings on the matter, including questioning the rationale of Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive officer and president David Zaslav.

“I feel like he’s just tired of being asked about it,’” Klingler said. “He’s like, ‘You know what? I don’t care where it goes – I’m done.’”

Fescoe questioned if anyone could blame Barkley for what he has decided to do, especially receiving firsthand knowledge on how everything is playing out. Over the last several months, Inside the NBA has been a topic of discussion, part of which has presumably been about its future on television. If Barkley follows through with his decision, it would mark the end of the studio program as currently constructed, and Fescoe believes that Barkley has ultimately had enough of dealing with the speculation and ambiguity.

“How many people want to do that as well, just kind of walk away and say, ‘You know what? I put in my time and I am done here, and now I have the ability to walk away,’” Fescoe questioned, “and not many people work for the love of the job anymore, right, and it seems like what they’ve gone through and what they’ve been drug through with all of this rights fee stuff is management getting in the way of them doing what they love doing.”

Part of Fescoe’s logic pertaining to why Barkley has decided to move on from television after next year is that he could be reading the writing on the wall. In mentioning that he has spoken with other networks, Fescoe presumed that ESPN would have Barkley work more hours and that he would not be interested in doing that. Barkley is a sports media professional Fescoe considers to be irreplaceable, much like his co-host Josh Klingler, who is leaving the show on 610 Sports Radio next month.

“Greg Olsen, I guess, is considered replaceable at FOX by Tom Brady, and they just move analysts out and bring guys in all the time, but there are some people that are not replaceable,” Fescoe said, “and if you’re going to keep that Inside the NBA show, you can keep it in name, but if you don’t have Charles Barkley, no offense to anybody else up there, it’s just not the same type of show and it’s just not going to be as good as if Charles Barkley is there.”

Klingler is not sure that Barkley will end up retiring and believes that he will be back in some capacity. Additionally, he mentioned that it could be a means of putting TNT on the hot seat by putting pressure on the company to retain broadcast rights to the league. Fescoe replied by articulating that it could be Barkley putting ESPN on the hot seat to make him a lucrative contract offer and consider signing with the network.

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SiriusXM Media, GroupM and Edison Research Release New Sports Audio Report

“Family, community, and emotion drive this passion unlike any other. What brand wouldn’t want to be associated with this level of devotion?” 

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Logos for SiriusXM, Edison Research and GroupM

SiriusXM Media, GroupM and Edison Research have released a new sports audio report. The report “explores sports fandom in the U.S. and the role that audio content plays in fans’ engagement with sports and leagues.”

The report found that 64% of sports fans frequently or occasionally listened to sports content last year via radio, podcasts or SiriusXM.

The findings were presented in a webinar late last week by Gabriel Soto, Senior Director of Research at Edison Research, Melissa Paris, Vice President of Sales Research at SiriusXM Media, and Jen Soch, Executive Director, Channel Solutions at GroupM US.  

The key findings in the study showed that 186 million people ages 13 and over identify as sports fans, that is two-thirds of the American population. The study also found that 68% of sports fans say sports brings their family closer together. Another major finding was that the majority of Gen Z and Millennials closely follow the personal lives of athletes they like.

While the majority of sports audio is still being consumed via AM/FM radio, podcast’s share of sports listening has almost doubled since 2018. With the younger audience, the study found that 13–34-year-olds are spending three times as much time with sports podcasts than sports radio.

In a positive note for sports audio advertisers, the report also showed 63% of sports audio listeners have gathered more information about a company or product after hearing an ad on a sports podcast or sports audio program. Over half have purchased a product or service after hearing an ad on a sports podcast or sports audio program. 

“The idea that sports is more than just a game is at the core of what drives fandom, audio consumption, and the benefits advertisers receive from sports audio,” said Soto. “Family, community, and emotion drive this passion unlike any other. What brand wouldn’t want to be associated with this level of devotion?” 

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Adam Schein Celebrates 20 Years of ‘Schein on Sports’

“Thank you guys for listening and subscribing and interacting. And it is just a blast to host Schein On Sports now for two decades.”

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Screengrab from SiriusXM's Schein on Sports
Screengrab: SiriusXM's Schein on Sports

Adam Schein has big reason to celebrate. As many in the media industry know, doing a show at the same place for a decade is rarely done these days. Schein and his team have now been doing Schein on Sports at SiriusXM for two decades.

Schein started his show today noting that June 15th marked the 20-year anniversary of the show, which airs on the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel on SiriusXM each weekday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST.

“Thank you, 20 glorious years,” Schein said in his usual high-energy tone to start off his show this morning. “Officially 20 glorious years of Schein On Sports. I always say: best listeners, callers, subscribers, in the history of sports radio. I love you guys. Thank you guys for listening and subscribing and interacting. And it is just a blast to host Schein On Sports now for two decades.

“My goodness, it is absolutely wild…SiriusXM, the best place to work in all of sports media. It’s always important to stop and smell the roses on a day like today and most especially thanks to you guys for everything over 20 years…That’s wild and amazing and absolutely crazy in every possible way.”

Schein, a 1999 graduate of Syracuse University’s famed Newhouse School of Public Communications, signed a four-year extension with SiriusXM in March 2023. “I am so incredibly elated and fired up to re-sign another long-term deal with SiriusXM, my radio home for the last 18 years,” said Schein at the time. “I love working with the amazing people at SiriusXM. I truly appreciate the platform, power and prestige of hosting Schein On Sports every weekday on Mad Dog Sports Radio. It’s my passion.”

Schein joined SiriusXM in 2004 and was the first voice ever heard on SiriusXM NFL Radio. He moved to SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio in 2019.

“Adam is an exceptional talent with a passion for sports that is obvious every time he cracks open the mic,” said Eric Spitz, VP of Sports Programming, SiriusXM when the company announced Schein’s extension. “SiriusXM has been his home since 2004 and it has been a thrill to see his star rise over these last two decades. We’re thrilled to extend our great relationship with Adam, keep him as a mainstay on our Mad Dog Sports Radio channel, and ensure our listeners continue to get his one-of-a-kind brand of sports talk on a daily basis.”

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