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The Remote: A Love Poem

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This week I wanted to write about the positives and negatives of selling a live remote broadcast.  The older you are the more likely you are to remember a time when these were a really big deal, no matter the format.  Rock stations would set up at a shoe store on a Saturday and the line would be down the street to meet the DJ and have a chance to spin the “wheel of prizes.”  If the store wasn’t packed full of customers and having one of their biggest days of the year, it was a disappointment.  

Image result for radio station event

As time has passed and the world has changed, so too has the live remote broadcast.  No longer can a client purchase a two-hour show on a weekend afternoon and expect that people are going to stop what they’re doing and run to meet the DJ.  Obviously, with social media and other advances, the DJ’s, or in our case show hosts, aren’t as much of a mystery as they used to be.  Additionally, people’s lives are busier than ever and that 3-night trip to Mexico you’re giving away isn’t going to change anything.

In my almost twenty-five years in the business, I‘ve had a love-hate relationship with remotes.  From the early days of having to set them up or even run them technically, to hosting them to selling them, I feel like I’ve seen and done it all.  There’s been great ones that were very memorable and there’ve been terrible ones where I wanted to forget quickly they’d ever happened.

I am very much a believer that the live show on location has value if done correctly and if the proper expectations are set up front.  They can enhance something already happening such as a golf tournament or grand opening and they also have the added bonus of being a marketing vehicle for the station.  With that said, they can also be an enormous pain in the butt and most of the time the expectations are that people will flock through the doors because our station is there, despite our best efforts.  

Yep, been there done that with remotes.  I got to thinking back on it all and jotted down this little ode to the live remote:

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Oh live remote broadcast, how we’ve been through it all

Via Comrex, Tieline, Marti or when everything failed, a call

You used to be desired all of the time

We’d give away prizes and down the street people would line

Listeners would meet the hosts, finally see the face behind a voice

And if the place was full, we’d all sit back, take the credit and rejoice

But things have changed, remotes can now be a real grind

When I think of what they’ve become, here is what comes to mind:

The promos ran, the eblast went out, we couldn’t have promoted it more

Now please, please, please will some people come through that door

Last night I was worried sick and hardly got any sleep

Why oh why did I sell this (bleepity bleep)

I said be here at ten, and nobody showed until ten thirty

The banners are all wrinkled and the logo’d tablecloth is dirty

The on-air hosts are whining, complaining and won’t listen to me

And all they keep worrying about is when they’ll get their talent fee

And then another moment of despair

The remote tech just jumped up and yelled, “I think we’re off the air!”

The store owner is pacing and doesn’t look calm

Please, lord don’t let this one be a bomb

But oh, lookey here, what’s that I see

The host got up and started schmoozing the client for me

And now what through the door should appear

Listeners, who said they heard us and just had to get here

The place started to fill and the cash register was ringin

The owner started to look pleased with the people we were bringin

It’s all turned around, I think this remote actually went well

Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to sell

Live remotes, they are truly a necessary evil 

I think if we stopped selling them, there’d be an upheaval

Some accounts still love them and are willing to pay

And nobody’s turning down the money, not in this day

We’ll keep hoping they go well and from each one we’ll learn

Until one day soon when we can sell remotes without (too much) concern

Remotes, it’s been a heckuva ride, as I take a deep breath

And truly hope you’re not the cause of my early death.

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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