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The XFL’s Return is About Strategy and Second Chances

Jason Barrett




Imagine for a minute what it would be like if we didn’t allow people to learn from their mistakes and earn second opportunities. Bill Belichick wouldn’t be leading the Patriots into another Super Bowl. Nick Foles wouldn’t be starting against him. Steve Jobs wouldn’t have saved Apple and turned it into a global success. Oprah Winfrey wouldn’t have become a revered TV personality. Jay-Z and Lady Gaga wouldn’t have become international music stars.

I could list example after example, but you get the point.

Failure owns real estate on the highway to success. You can try to avoid it, but at some point in your life, it’s going to suck you in. What’s important to remember when you face it is that it’s there to teach you a lesson. It may bruise your ego and make you question if you’re good enough or on the right track, but nobody reaps a lifetime of rewards without having their convictions challenged and their confidence rattled.

blankI bring this to light because on Thursday, Vince McMahon announced he was ready to gamble a second time on the XFL. The league is scheduled to begin play in 2020 and McMahon is hoping this time to learn from his past mistakes and see his dream of running a successful football league finally become a reality.

When the XFL folded in 2001, it was in bad shape. Sponsors fled. So too did the league’s television partner, NBC. Most importantly though, the audience had rejected the brand because the on the field product was inferior to what they were accustomed to watching.

McMahon at that time tried to introduce sex, violence and sideshow antics to give people a reason to tune in, coupled with appearances by WWE personalities. The problem with that formula was that although Americans can’t turn away from observing a car crash, once they see what’s taken place, they drive away. Which is exactly what they did every time an XFL game appeared on their TV schedule.

As bad as the original XFL on the field product was, some of the league’s ideas were good. Players were mic’d up. Unique camera angles were introduced. Player introductions were featured before the first series of play. They were innovative at the time, and wound up becoming a bigger part of the NFL’s television experience.

Upon announcing the news, social media was flooded with people declaring the league dead upon arrival. I ran a poll question on Twitter asking folks what percentage chance do they give the league of being successful the second time around. 58% said 0-25%, 23% went with 26-50%, 13% voted for 51-75% and 6% gave it a 76-100% chance of succeeding.

blankWhat I find interesting about that is that we haven’t learned our lesson. We’ve allowed our memories of the old XFL to shape what we think the second version will be. We’ve also read into comments made in a press conference and decided from them whether or not this league will work. We haven’t seen one player signed, one game played, one media partner added or one football executive hired to help McMahon make the most of his second chance.

I point this out because when the XFL held its introductory press conference nearly two decades ago, they promised an aggressive style of play and a whole lot of male focused entertainment. They also fired a few shots at the NFL. The public ate it up, and once the league began airing their edgy promos, mainstream interest grew. It spread so fast that the league’s first game was watched by an estimated 14 million people, helping it deliver an incredible 9.5 rating. The problem was that after football fans tuned in, just like a car crash, they observed the scene and drove away.

None of us know whether or not the XFL will work in 2020. But what I love about this story is how it involves strategy and the pursuit of redemption.

One thing to know about Vince McMahon, when he sees an opening, he seizes it. It’s why the WWE Network has become a success, WCW is no longer in business, and why brands like YouTube, Facebook, E and others have invested millions in doing business with him.

blankIt’s no secret that the NFL has turned off a lot of fans with their willingness to allow players to speak their minds on social and political issues. The decision to give players a choice of either standing, sitting or kneeling during the national anthem is another which has troubled people and generated a lot of negative national media attention.

But that’s not all.

NFL TV ratings have declined each of the past two seasons. Booth reviews and over-analyzing the rules have led to debates over what is and isn’t a catch, QB’s have been treated like they operate behind a force field, pass interference often affects the outcome of games, and kickoffs have been changed to discourage collisions between players running at maximum speed.

Add to the conversation CTE issues, frequent stories of players being arrested (does Ray Rice ring a bell?), and a seven month period where the most popular sport in our country goes on hiatus, leaving fans starving for something to sink their teeth into. That’s especially noticeable during the months of February and March.

When you take all of that into consideration and combine it with the rise of social media and brands such as Amazon, Twitter and Facebook expressing interest in paying for content, sports betting being on the brink of legalization, and the WWE’s television deal with USA expiring in September 2019, you can see why McMahon is rolling the dice.

So how do you take advantage of those opportunities? You do what McMahon is doing.

For starters, the XFL will play a ten game season starting in late January or early February. That’s right when the NFL ends their season and interest is at its peak. The rule book will be simplified to keep the pace of the game fast, commercial breaks will be shorter to retain interest, and traditional things like a halftime break will be eliminated to make games shorter. McMahon also plans to incorporate fan participation and online activities into the XFL experience.

blankThe biggest noise was made though when McMahon announced that any player who competes in the XFL will be required to stand for the national anthem, and players with prior arrests will not be invited to participate. The WWE Chairman and CEO said he’s looking to provide family friendly entertainment and place the focus on the game of football, not on issues beyond the gridiron.

Given his lifelong connection to the world of professional wrestling and the XFL’s prior use of WWE stars, many wondered if McMahon would align the two brands again. Recognizing how that could affect the perception of the league, McMahon said the WWE’s talent will have zero involvement with the XFL nor will any members of its broadcast team. He also made it clear that he was looking to stay out of the spotlight himself and hire smart football people to help him create a high quality football product.

McMahon’s strategic approach is smart and one that each broadcasting executive would pursue if faced with trying to launch a product opposite a dominant competitor. Whether it’ll work or not will depend on what the product looks like in 2020 and what the football fan’s appetite is for more football right after the NFL season expires.

But not to be forgotten in this story is the lesson of learning from failure and taking second chances.

Vince McMahon is an entertainment industry hall of famer. He built the WWE into an iconic brand by taking risks, among them creating WrestleMania, which had it failed, would have likely bankrupted the company. He didn’t need to invest his money and gamble again on the XFL, but it’s a project he loves and is passionate about it. As a result, he’s taking a second chance to try and get it right.

blankMaybe this will turn out bad and Vince’s legacy takes a hit. But ask yourself this question, if you were 72, highly successful, and had the stain of the XFL on your professional record, would you have the guts to try again to erase that mistake or would you just let it linger and take it with you to the grave one day?

The reality is that most people in McMahon’s shoes would’ve worried too much about their reputation being tarnished to risk pursuing the same dream that became their worst nightmare. It’s easy to operate safe and avoid publicly being ridiculed but learning from mistakes and bouncing back is what makes many of the things we do in life important.

As I think about this story, I’m reminded of a scene in the movie “Pursuit of Happiness” where Christopher Gardner (Will Smith) tells his son, “You got a dream? You got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves so they want to tell you that you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it.”

Well, Vince, you deserve credit for crafting a good strategy and having the courage to try again. But this time, you’ll need more than that to make this work. Football fans are going to expect a quality product. If they don’t get it, they’ll once again have two words for you, “You’re Fired.”

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett




Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett




The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett




When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have for sports, and for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on and sports gets less crowded on We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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