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Future Broadcasters in the NFL: Part 3

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With a new NFL season just around the corner, Barrett Sports Media decided to take on a big project. We reached out to hosts, PDs, and reporters in every NFL city in the country. The question we wanted answered was simple: Who on your team’s roster has the brightest future in the sports media?

We spent the better part of a month sending emails and texts asking folks to participate. Some gave us an answer right away. Some required a little poking and prodding. Some didn’t respond at all. What are you going to do, right? It’s a busy time of year for all of us in sports radio.

We will reveal a new batch of answers everyday from now until Friday. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. Part 2 is here.

Here is Part 3.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Carl Dukes – 92.9 the Game

The Atlanta Falcons selected tight end Austin Hooper in the third round (81st overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Stanford. Hoop as he is known by his teammates, is well spoken and a student of the game. He loves football. Hooper this off season spent well over 500 hours of practice time with Quarterback Matt Ryan to improve his connection with the quarterback with hopes of improving his overall numbers this up coming season.

While at Stanford Hooper studied Psychology, but I don’t think he will every use his psychology background outside of messing with people on the field. I think he has the brightest future in sports media for the Falcons. He has the looks to be a TV studio analysts and the skills and knowledge of the game to be in the booth to be a color analyst. I think Hooper who is very engaging and well-spoken could pick his job after his football days are over.

He has such a cool demeanor about him that one of his nicknames on the team is “California Cool”. But don’t mistake this “Dude” for a laid back surfer guy. Austin Hooper comes from a sports family. His father played football at San Diego State his Uncle Greg, played fullback at Stanford (1979-82) his Uncle Chip, played professional tennis his younger brother, Justin plays baseball at UCLA

Austin Hooper has the brightest future as a media star after his playing career is done whether it’s Radio or Television.

BUFFALO BILLS

Howard Simon – WGR 550 Sports Radio

Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander is the obvious choice for the Buffalo Bill with the brightest future in sports media.  Alexander is a go to guy for members of the media who regularly cover the team, because doesn’t just spit out sports cliches.  He actually puts thought into the question and gives an honest answer.   When we’ve had Lorenzo on WGR in his time as a Bill we usually get tweets from listeners telling us how much they enjoyed the interview.

Alexander has a great personality which is one of the many characteristics he’d need to succeed in broadcasting after his playing career.  He does a very good job of explaining the x’s and o’s part of the game and gives strong opinions on topics he feels passionate about.  Alexander is also adept at the social media side of things so he can handle twitter, facebook and other areas that have become an important part of broadcasting.
Alexander has been a guest on national TV and Radio shows so he’s done a nice job of making contacts while his playing career is winding down.  He also took part in the NFL’s sports radio and journalism boot camp in 2016, with an eye towards life after football.

His knowledge of the game, the ability to think on his feet and the energy in his interviews are just some of the reasons why Alexander would be a natural when it comes to broadcasting.

DENVER BRONCOS

Nate Kreckman – Altitude 950

Chris Harris, Jr is my guy here in Denver. He has a great football story, he’s honest, and most importantly, he’s really smart. Harris was undrafted out of Kansas, and made the Broncos roster in training camp in 2011. All he’s done since those humble NFL beginnings is win a Super Bowl as a part of one of the great NFL secondaries ever, earn three Pro Bowl nods, and make himself north of $38 million in his career. 

So how does an undrafted guy do that? Chris Harris, Jr is definitely not the most athletic player on the field, but he’s often the smartest player out there. His dedication to film study is well known in Denver, and his football IQ is off the charts. He fervently studies opposing quarterbacks and receivers, and has extensive knowledge of offensive tendencies. There’s a reason Harris and Aqib Talib were so great together, and it’s that they were two of the smartest football players to whom I’ve ever spoken. 

Of course, none of that is of any value in a broadcasting role unless the player knows how to convey that expertise in a concise and thoughtful way. Harris has gotten better in that capacity in his entire career. He’s now an elder stateman, a leader, and a go-to for the local media on team issues big and small. He’s never afraid to be honest on his opinions of teammates, coaches, front office personnel, and opponents. In 2016, Harris told the media Trevor Siemian was the best QB in camp, despite the organization doing everything to push Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch. Siemian won the job. Last season, he was not shy about calling out younger teammates that were not properly respecting the veterans and the game. His postgame analysis of both his own team’s performance as well as that of the opponents makes him a must-have quote for writers and broadcast media alike. 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Joe Cowart – 1010XL

The Jacksonville Jaguars are chock full of superstars on the defensive side of the ball and it’s not easy to nail down who would be the best fit behind a mic or in front of a camera after the gridiron.  You can start with the undeniable bravado of Jalen Ramsey. Outspoken, controversial, memorable – he checks all the boxes.  Malik Jackson might be another Jaguar the spotlight post career with a quick tongue and plenty of palpable material. But the mantle of future media master has to belong to Calais Campbell.

One of the most engaging and charming personalities ever to fit inside a defensive end who makes a living planting quarterbacks but when Campbell is off the field his affable approach to life rings true.  He could name the style of media too, from an analyst chair to a Barstool Sports setup, Calais fits right in with a baritone quality and gregarious personality. 

When it ends on the field after more than a decade of defensive mastery, Campbell is a perfect fit for the athlete that can command the room and kill with intel about what it was like to play the game.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Andrew Filliponi – 93.7 the Fan

​So, with the Steelers this question is really hard. I think if he wanted to do it, Ben Roethlisberger could be a network analyst on games. I say that because I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ben on his show. For my money, he does the best player radio show in America. He doesn’t give cliche answers. He’s honest. He tries. So if he took that to the broadcast booth, he’d be awesome.

Ramon Foster, a Steelers starting guard, will absolutely do media. He’s got a great sense of humor, very natural on the air. He was voted the Steelers best player interview from the media in 2017.

Ulitmately, Joe Haden might be the right answer. He’s been a guest analyst on NFL Network. He’s enthusiastic on air, you can tell he likes it. Given his track record and name power, I see him working for a network someday.

BSM Writers

Keeping Premier League Games Shouldn’t Be A Hard Call For NBC

“Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans.”

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NBC Sports is facing some tough, costly decisions that will define its sports brand for the rest of this decade.  A chance to connect with viewers in a changing climate and grow Peacock’s audience as well.  However, making the right choice is paramount to not losing to apps like Paramount+ (pun intended).

NBC is currently in the business of negotiating to continue airing the Premier League as their current deal ends after this 2021-2022 season.  NASCAR is contracted to NBC (and FOX) through the 2024 season.

NBC’s tentpole sports are the NFL and the Olympics.  

Negotiations for the EPL are expected to go down to the wire. Rather than re-up with NBC, the league is meeting with other networks to drive up the price. NBC has to then make a decision if the rights go north of $2 billion.

Should NBC spend that much on a sport that is not played in the United States? It’s not my money, but that sport continues to grow in the US.

If NBC re-ups with the Premier League, will that leave any coins in the cupboard to re-up with NASCAR? Comcast CEO Brian Roberts hinted that there might be some penny pinching as the prices continue to soar. This may have been one of the reasons that NBC did not fight to keep the National Hockey League, whose rights will be with Disney and WarnerMedia through ESPN and TNT, respectively.

“These are really hard calls,” Roberts said. “You don’t always want to prevail, and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong, but I think the sustainability of sports is a critical part of what our company does well.”

Roberts was speaking virtually at the recent Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference. He told the audience that between NBC and European network Sky, that Comcast has allocated approximately $20 billion towards these sports properties.

Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh spoke virtually at the Bank of America Securities 2021 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference and echoed that the company is in a good position to make some strong choices in the sports realm. 

“The bar is really high for us to pursue outright acquisitions of any material size,” Cavanagh added. “We got a great hand to play with what we have.”

While the European investments involve a partnership with American rival Viacom, the US market seems to have apparent limits.

Last Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway was seen by around 2.19 million people. It was the most-watched motorsports event of the weekend. That same week eight different Premier League matches saw over 1 million viewers. More than half of those matches were on subscription-based Peacock. 

Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans. A game of typical soccer fan is used to a sport that is less than two hours long. The investment in a team is one or two games a week. 

My connection to the Premier League began before the pandemic.  When I cut the cord in late 2017, I purchase Apple TV.  Setting it up, it asks you to name your favorite teams.  After clicking on the Syracuse Orange and the New Jersey Devils, I recalled that my wife has family based in London, England.  They are season ticket holders for Arsenal, and that family redefined the word “die-hard” fans.

I’ve long been a believer that sports allegiances are best when handed down by family. I love hearing stories of people loving the New York Giants because their parents liked them, and they pass it down to their children.

I’ve successfully given my allegiance to the Devils to my young daughters. 

By telling Apple TV that I liked Arsenal, I get alerts from three different apps when the “Gunners” are playing. The $4.99 is totally worth it to see Arsenal.

Whenever I told this story, I was amazed to see how many other American sports fans had a Premier League team. Students of mine at Seton Hall University rooted for Tottenham Hotspurs, while an old colleague cheers on Chelsea.

Global Is Cool': The Growing Appeal of Premier League Soccer in America
Courtesy: Morning Consult

This is not meant to say that NBC should sign the EPL on my account. The key for any US-based soccer fan is that between Bundesliga, Serie A, and other leagues, there will be no shortage of soccer available on both linear television and streaming services.

Besides, Dani Rojas did say that “Football is life.”  NBC, originator of the Ted Lasso character, should make keeping its Premier League US connection a priority.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 45

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Today, Demetri is joined by Tyler McComas and Russ Heltman. Tyler pops on to talk about the big start to the college football season on TV. Russ talks about Barstool’s upfront presentation and how the business community may not see any problems in working with the brand. Plus, Demetri is optimistic about FOX Sports Radio’s new morning show.

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BSM Writers

6 Ad Categories Hotter Than Gambling For Sports Radio

“Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life.”

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For years sports radio stations pushed sports gambling advertisers to early Saturday and Sunday morning. The 1-800 ads, shouting, and false claims were seedy, and some stations wouldn’t even accept the business at 5 am on Sunday.

Now, with all but ten states ready to go all in on sports gambling, sports radio stations can’t get enough of that green. Demetri Ravanos wrote about the money cannon that sports gambling has become for stations. Well, what if you are in one of those ten states where it isn’t likely to ever be legal like California or Texas? Where is your pot of gold?

A Pot of Gold Articles - Analyzing Metals
Courtesy: iStockphoto

Or, let’s face it, the more gambling ads you run, the more risk you take on that the ads will not all work as you cannibalize the audience and chase other listeners away who ARE NOT online gambling service users and never will be. So, what about you? Where is your pot of gold?

Well, let’s go Digging for Gold. 

The RAB produces the MRI-Simmons Gold Digger PROSPECTING REPORT for several radio formats. In it, they index sports radio listeners’ habits against an average of 18+ Adult. The Gold Digger report looks at areas where the index is higher than the norm – meaning the sports radio audience is more likely to use the product or service than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. The report, generated in 2020, indicates that sports radio listeners are 106% more likely to have used an online gambling site in the last thirty days. That’s impressive because the report only lists 32 activities or purchases a sports radio listener indexes higher than an average adult. I looked at those 32 higher indexes, and I think we can start looking for some gold.

Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life. The gambling companies who commit significant money to get results will continue advertising and chase the others away. So, the future of sports radio needs to include other cash cows.

If it is evident to online sports gambling services that sports radio stations are a must-buy, who else should feel that way?  I looked at the Top 32 and eliminated the media companies. ESPN, MLB/NHL/NFL networks, and others aren’t spending cash on sports radio stations they don’t own in general. But Joseph A Bank clothing, Fidelity, and Hotwire should! Here’s your PICK-6 list I pulled together that’s hotter than sports gambling:

  • Sportscard collectors, Dapper Labs, Open Sea- read about Sports NFT $.
  • Online brokerage firms-Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, Webull, TD Ameritrade
  • Golf courses, resorts, equipment, etc.- we play golf at home and vacation
  • Hotwire.com, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Carnival Corporation, and Priceline.com- we’ve used Hotwire in the last year.
  • FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle-we wired or overnighted $ 
  • Jos. A. Bank, shein.com, macys.com, nordstroms.com- we went to Jos. A. Bank in last three months

The sports card/NFT market is 32% hotter than the sports betting market for sports radio listeners. Everything on the PICK-6 is at least 100% more likely to purchase than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. All listed are at or above indexing strength compared to sports betting. The individual companies I added are industry leaders. Bet on it! Email me for details. 

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