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Jerry Recco: Taylor Swift Effect on NFL Game Viewership is Over

“The whole country lost its mind when Taylor Swift began showing up at football stadiums.”

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Taylor Swift - Kansas City Chiefs
Courtesy: Jason Hanna, Getty Images

The NFL engaged in an advertising campaign ahead of its 2023 regular season where a session was taking place to author a script. WFAN host Jerry Recco wonders just how believable that campaign was.

With some skeptic fans claiming that everything that takes place in the league is predetermined prior to kickoff, the league presumably decided to play off of the idea for a creative spot with cameo appearances from several NFL players. One storyline that many people did not seem to see coming, however, was in the frequent attendance of award-winning singer and songwriter Taylor Swift, who is in a relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Although the team has been struggling of late, the presence of Swift at the games is ostensibly being viewed as a net positive for the league. Nationally televised games where she made an appearance were being scrutinized about how often they would show her early on. Moreover, FOX Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews was being lauded as the potential catalyst for the romance, pleading Swift to give Kelce a chance over the summer on her podcast, Calm Down, with network colleague Charissa Thompson.

Swift was once again present in a suite from GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium to witness the team’s Christmas Day matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, ending in a 20-14 defeat. Analysis of the Chiefs’ play of late pins many of their struggles on the offense, specifically on receivers who are unable to consistently catch passes thrown by quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Despite the recent shortcomings, the game remained a draw on television with an average of 29.2 million viewers across CBS and Nickelodeon, the most-watched NFL game on Christmas Day since 1989. Ratings from Nielsen Media Research began implementing augmented tracking of out-of-home (OOH) viewing and integrating the metric into national television ratings beginning in September 2020.

“The whole country lost its mind when Taylor Swift began showing up at football stadiums,” Jerry Recco said Wednesday morning on WFAN. “I felt as if she showed up in Kansas City on Christmas and it was like, ‘Meh.’ I feel like it’s over – not her popularity; I don’t mean that – [but] I feel like the whole world watching because she’s showing up [is over].”

“Yeah, I never really quite bought into that,” replied Chris Lopresti, who was filling in the morning time slot. “I think early on, the appeal was for the Swifties; it’s like they’re tracking her every movements, right? I don’t think the football fan was tuning in because of Taylor Swift.”

Earlier in the year, the Boomer & Gio program on WFAN and CBS Sports Network received a call from a listener explaining how fans were watching games just to get a glimpse of Taylor Swift. There were numerous instances where broadcast personnel discussed plans to implement Swift within the broadcast. In an interview with TIME for the “Person of the Year” honor, Swift remarked that she has no idea when she is being shown on the television broadcast, explaining that she is showing up to support Kelce.

The eight NFL games that Swift has been in attendance at thus far – which have been televised across CBS, FOX, NBC, ABC/ESPN, and Amazon Prime Video – have an average viewership of 23.38 million. The Chiefs have a 5-3 overall record in those contests and sit at 9-6 on the year in total, good for first place in the AFC West division.

“I think there had to be a shelf life on that,” Lopresti said of Swift’s appearances leading to more viewership. “You were either going to say, ‘Hey, I kind of like watching football, so I’m going to continue to be a fan,’ or, ‘Alright, I checked in on my girl; [I saw] what she’s up to and now we move on,’ especially on Christmas Day.”

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KFC on WFAN: What Makes Barstool Sports Successful is the “Reality TV Aspect”

“Anybody that has success in entertainment and sports…I think there is going to be that desire to see behind the curtain and we just kind of opened the curtain willingly.”

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Kevin Clancy, aka KFC from Barstool Sports
Courtesy: Barstool Sports

Kevin Clancy, better known as ‘KFC’ from Barstool Sports, filled in for Boomer Esiason on WFAN this morning with Gregg Giannatti. The two hosts discussed the feuding going on between members of the 1990’s Chicago Bulls as some players, most notably Scottie Pippen, are disputing some of what was said in The Last Dance back in 2020.

They compared the situation to some of what they face at their offices, noting they spend a lot of time with their co-workers, who aren’t members of their family or in most cases their best friends and drama can sometimes ensue. “Barstool has taken that office drama to a level that no one else has achieved,” Giannotti said to KFC. “When we do stuff like that here [at WFAN], it’s very rarely serious. The drama that you guys have, it’s real and it’s out there and that’s got to be a really difficult thing to deal with if you’re not prepared for it.”

“We usually refer to it as “being in the mud,” Clancy responded. “And there’s only certain people that can really live in the mud…It’s part of what made Barstool successful, is that reality TV aspect of it in that it is kind of like a team, and there is internal drama like clubhouse drama, locker room drama and the way we usually handle that is let’s do it out there and on the air.”

KFC talked about being a fan of WFAN and seeing it from the outside looking in. He said as a listener you could sense who was not a fan of certain people. He used the example of the feuds which would take place between Mike Francesa and Craig Carton and then the subsequent feuds Giannotti found himself in with “The Pope” when he took over for Carton.

“Anybody that has success in entertainment and sports…I think there is going to be that desire to see behind the curtain and we just kind of opened the curtain willingly,” KFC said about Barstool Sports. “We will probably fight each other more than anything, but then when there’s an outside problem, we close ranks and we are like, let’s handle business.”

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Gow Media Parts Ways With Sports Map Radio Program Director Craig Larson

“With Larson exiting, Gow Media will make another change, tapping into its partnership with VSiN to satisfy its Sports Map Radio affiliate stations.”

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It’s been a tough week in Houston for Gow Media. First, the company made cuts to ESPN 97.5, parting ways with the midday team of Joshua Beard, Michael Connor and Andrew Carlson. Then yesterday, the company informed longtime network program director Craig Larson that he too was unfortunately a budget cut casualty.

Larson had been with Gow Media since the company acquired the Sporting News Radio network in 2010. He started with Sporting News Radio as a producer in Illinois, moving next to Los Angeles to take on programming duties for the network before relocating to Houston to lead the outlet following David Gow’s acquisition of the brand.

During the fourteen years that Larson managed the network, it’s gone through a few changes. Gow elected to change the identity from Sporting News Radio to Yahoo Sports Radio in 2011. That was followed by rebrands to SB Nation Radio and its current name, Sports Map Radio.

With Larson exiting, Gow Media will tap into its partnership with VSiN to satisfy its Sports Map Radio affiliate stations. The two groups have already been working together. This just gives the sports betting network an even bigger push. It also helps Gow stand out better in a crowded national sports radio marketplace.

As for Larson, this is his first trip to free agency in nearly a quarter century. When reached by BSM, he acknowledged that his time with the company had come to an end. He added, ‘It was an amazing 14 years in Houston. I’m proud of the work we put in, and there’s no better person in the world to work for than David Gow.’

Those interested in chatting with Larson about future possibilities can reach him at [email protected].

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Eli Gold Out as Voice of Alabama Football; Ends 35-Year Run

“I will not be returning. The university chose to not bring me back. I have not retired!”

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Eli Gold
Courtesy: Alabama Athletics

The Tuscaloosa News has reported longtime University of Alabama radio play-by-play voice Eli Gold will not be returning next season. Gold, who has been in the position for 35 years, told Birmingham FOX 6 Reporter Jonathan Hardison, “I will not be returning. The university chose to not bring me back. I have not retired!”

The report says Chris Stewart, who has been calling Alabama basketball for the Crimson Tide Sports Network, will take over the football broadcasts.

“Eli has been an invaluable member of our broadcast team,” Jim Carabin, Vice President and General Manager of the Crimson Tide Sports Network said in a statement. “We are grateful for his years of service and wish him all the best in this next chapter. CTSN is fortunate to have someone as part of our existing broadcast team in Chris to step up and seamlessly transition into this role.”

Gold missed the 2022 season for health reasons, otherwise he has been calling Crimson Tide games each season since 1988. Gold, 70, had been diagnosed with cancer just over one year ago but called home games in 2023. Stewart filled in for Gold both in 2022 and 2023.

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