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It’s About Reps, Not Age For Jake Asman

“Asman is hosting his own show nationally syndicated show at 23 because of every little thing he did leading up to now.”

Tyler McComas

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The intro music played and the red light came on. It was show time. The all too familiar feeling for so many in the business, meant big nerves for Jake Asman. For the first time in his life, he was behind a live mic. There was no turning back now. 

Just about every show host can recall their first ever time on the air. For some, it came in college at the school’s radio station. For others, it came during an internship with a station. But for Asman, it came all the way back in the ninth grade at his high school in Long Island at WXWZ 88.5 FM. Most freshman in high school don’t have a clue as to what they want to do after they graduate. It’s a distant decision that will take care of itself in 3-4 years. But Asman wasn’t like most high school freshman. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. 

Granted, he can’t exactly remember what he talked about during his first day on the air, but he bets it was about his beloved New York Jets in the playoffs, seeing as his sports radio debut came in December of 2009. He always knew what he wanted to do, but this was more just confirmation. Asman wanted to be a sports radio host. 

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On Monday, Asman sat in the SB Nation studios at the ripe age of 23 to host the inaugural hour of The Power Hour with Jake Asman. He was hosting his own show with his own name attached to the title while in his early 20’s. Sure, there were probably a little bit of nerves, but nothing about it was overwhelming, seeing as he’d been in the seat many times before. Age didn’t matter as much as the number of reps he had received since his early days of high school. He was prepared for the moment and he delivered.

With PD Craig Larson and CEO David Gow deciding to grow and add talent at SB Nation, Asman was offered a weekday show from 7-8 p.m. It was a no-brainer decision for the guy that had graduated from Ithaca College just a short time before in 2017. But how did Asman move so quickly from a graduation gown, cap and tassel to a national radio show host?

The journey included working part time at WFAN/CBS Sports Radio as a board op and producer, as well as a short stop in Los Angeles to intern at Fox Sports Radio in the spring of 2016. While that time around the best in the business was extremely helpful, sometimes you have to just get behind the mic and figure out who you are and who you want to be.

After searching and searching for any kind of paid opening, Asman finally got an opportunity with an internet community start up called SportsOnTheGo1 Radio in Suffolk County, Long Island. At the same time he was with WFAN/CBS Sports Radio, SportsOnTheGo1 Radio gave him a daily show and even helped with sales to earn some extra cash. No, the listener base wasn’t huge, but he was getting the opportunity to learn the process and feel of doing a daily show. Plus, he was even able to take the show to the Super Bowl while he was there. 

Asman is hosting his own show nationally syndicated show at 23 because of every little thing he did leading up to now. It goes all the way back to hosting a show in the 9th grade and getting ahead of everyone else his age. Back to spending nearly a year with SportsOnTheGo1 Radio to improve as a show host, despite the lack of listeners. Back to internships in New York and Los Angeles that gave him a front row seat as to how a successful radio show is done. Back to working at ESPN 97.5 in Houston and SB Nation Radio where his fill-in worked proved he was capable of hosting a daily show. His hard work, determination and willingness to explore the business at an early age, paved the way for a successful start to his promising career.

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There’s no doubt in my mind that Asman is on a rocket ship up to the top of the business. His career trajectory is trending more favorably with each passing year. But his success isn’t by accident. Asman was once the young intern that read and listened to everything on Barrett Sports Media. But he was also the kid that found a way to get reps. If you’re someone who’s interested in the sports radio business but has no experience – find a way to get reps. It will only pay huge dividends in the long-term of your career. 

TM: How is it doing a one-hour show? Is it challenging to fit everything you think is relevant and worthy of being discussed?

JA: Yeah, it’s a great question. So far, in the last couple of months, I’ve had a couple of opportunities to fill in for an hour here and there. So I’ve had experience doing it and I really think it just depends on the time of the year and what’s going on. Monday was a cake walk, because it was just a preview of the national championship game. You hit that and a segment on Wild Card weekend and you’re good.

There’s definitely going to be some days, after football season ends, where you really have to think and decide what the lead stories are, or an interesting angle to those stories. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to because you have an opportunity to really be creative when it’s just an hour, knowing that the whole premise of the show is to look back at what happened for that day, as well as the big games to come that night. A good challenge will be to come up with something funny and creative that the listener didn’t hear if they were previously listening to sports radio all day. 

TM: Were you told by management, or maybe it’s just an unspoken rule, to really try to promote pieces from SB Nation on the air?

JA: So it’s interesting, with SB Nation Radio we promote a lot of our writers by having them on as guests. If you ever listen to the network on a random day, you’ll be hearing different writers and columnists on various shows throughout the day. The great thing about SB Nation Radio, is that anytime I had the opportunity to do extended fill-in work, a lot of times the guests would be writers from the website to cross-promote each other.

We also run a lot of spots on the network for SB Nation podcasts that are really starting to take off on the iTunes charts. But depending on the day and what the hot topic is, you’ll hear our writers on the air as guests. 

TM: SB Nation seems to be growing and adding talent. What’s the goal for the network?

JA: We added over 25 new affiliates with the biggest ones in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Tulsa. It’s really exciting. A lot of that, of course, has to do with NBC Sports Radio not being 24/7 with their coverage anymore, so I give a lot of credit to our program director and CEO, that’s Craig Larson, for being really aggressive and bringing affiliates.

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The hope, is that with bringing in more affiliates and expanding the reach of SB Nation Radio, it can only mean good things for everyone that works in the sales side of the network. I think we’re in a great place, it’s just the fact that we’re something different with our talent skewing as much younger than most. That offers fresh perspective on various topics throughout the day. Ultimately, 2019 is setting up to be a really awesome year, if you consider where SB Nation has been in year’s past and how it’s continuing to grow. 

TM: It’s unique that you’re able to contribute to both SB Nation Radio and ESPN 97.5. Are both of those studios in the same building?

JA: Yeah, both are in the same exact building and about 10 feet from each other. It’s pretty cool. Take someone like Patrick Creighton who now does our 9-noon show every day. He hosts a show on the network and then he has a show that airs at night from 7-9 on ESPN 97.5. Both companies intertwine. 

TM: If you’re young and trying to improve your hosting skills, can anything replace constant reps? Be it at a small station, podcast, whatever?

JA: I know this is Barrett Sports Media, I’ve been reading this site since the beginning. I remember when I was an intern at Fox Sports Radio in Los Angeles and I discovered it. I think a site like this, I think it’s awesome. If you’re into broadcasting and a radio junkie like I am, Barrett Sports Media is great to inform you and keep you up to date with what’s going on in the business.

I try to read everything and listen to as much sports talk radio as possible, but you said it best, there’s nothing that can replace reps. I think what’s great about where we are right now in 2019, is that anyone can find a mic and record a podcast. I spoke to a kid a few weeks ago that’s a ninth-grade student at the high school I went to, who wanted advice on how to get reps. I told him to find creative ways as possible to get experience. I always tell people to listen to sports talk radio, but do so with a critical ear. How are they formatting their show? What are they talking about? How are they developing the personalities? If you grew up listening to Mike Francesa on WFAN, that doesn’t mean try and be just like him. But you can ask yourself what makes him successful so you can find the format on how to do a really good show.

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If sports radio is what you want to do, listen to as much of it as possible. If you want to do play-by-play, listen to as much of it as possible. Try and study as much as the business as you can. But yes, again, there’s nothing you can do to replace reps. If that means podcast, blogging, or even talking into your own phone, anything you can do will help you. 

BSM Writers

The Future Is Now, Embrace Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible.

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This week has been a reckoning for sports and its streaming future on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, ESPN+, and more.

Amazon announced that Thursday Night Football, which averaged 13 million viewers, generated the highest number of U.S. sign ups over a three hour period in the app’s history. More people in the United States subscribed to Prime during the September 15th broadcast than they did during Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday. It was also “the most watched night of primetime in Prime Video’s history,” according to Amazon executive Jay Marine. The NFL and sports in general have the power to move mountains even for some of the nation’s biggest and most successful brands.

This leads us to the conversation happening surrounding Aaron Judge’s chase for history. Judge has been in pursuit of former major leaguer Roger Maris’ record for the most home runs hit during one season in American League history.

The sports world has turned its attention to the Yankees causing national rights holders such as ESPN, Fox, and TBS to pick up extra games in hopes that they capture the moment history is made. Apple TV+ also happened to have a Yankees game scheduled for Friday night against the Red Sox right in the middle of this chase for glory.

Baseball fans have been wildin’ out at the prospects of missing the grand moment when Judge passes Maris or even the moments afterwards as Judge chases home run number 70 and tries to truly create monumental history of his own. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand has even reported there were talks between YES, MLB, and Apple to bring Michael Kay into Apple’s broadcast to call the game, allow YES Network to air its own production of the game, or allow YES Network to simulcast Apple TV+’s broadcast. In my opinion, all of this hysteria is extremely bogus.

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible. Amazon brought in NBC to help with production of TNF and if you watch the flow of the broadcast, the graphics of the broadcast, NBC personalities like Michael Smith, Al Michaels, and Terry McAuliffe make appearances on the telecast – it is very clear that the network’s imprint is all over the show.

NBC’s experience in conducting the broadcast has made the viewing experience much more seamless. Apple has also used MLB Network and its personalities for assistance in ensuring there’s no major difference between what you see on air vs. what you’re streaming.

Amazon and Apple have also decided to not hide their games behind a paywall. Since the beginning of the season, all of Apple’s games have been available free of charge. No subscription has ever been required. As long as you have an Apple device and can download Apple TV+, you can watch their MLB package this season.

Guess what? Friday’s game against the Red Sox is also available for free on your iPhone, your laptop, or your TV simply by downloading the AppleTV app. Amazon will also simulcast all Thursday Night Football games on Twitch for free. It may be a little harder or confusing to find the free options, but they are out there and they are legal and, once again, they are free.

Apple has invested $85 million into baseball, money that will go towards your team becoming better hypothetically. They’ve invested money towards creating a new kind of streaming experience. Why in the hell would they offer YES Network this game for free? There’s no better way for them to drive subscriptions to their product than by offering fans a chance at watching history on their platform.

A moment like this are the main reason Apple paid for rights in the first place. When Apple sees what the NFL has done for Amazon in just one week and coincidentally has the ability to broadcast one of the biggest moments in baseball history – it would be a terrible business decision to let viewers watch it outside of the Apple ecosystem and lose the ability to gain new fans.

It’s time for sports fans to grow up and face reality. Streaming is here to stay. 

MLB Network is another option

If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of watching the Yankees take on the Red Sox for free on Apple TV+, MLB Network will also air all of Judge’s at bats live as they are happening. In case the moment doesn’t happen on Apple TV+ on Friday night, Judge’s next games will air in full on MLB Network (Saturday), ESPN (Sunday), MLB Network again (Monday), TBS (Tuesday) and MLB Network for a third time on Wednesday. All of MLB Network’s games will be simulcast of YES Network’s local New York broadcast. It wouldn’t shock me to see Fox pick up another game next Thursday if the pursuit still maintains national interest.

Quick bites

  • One of the weirdest things about the experience of streaming sports is that you lose the desire to channel surf. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Brandon Ross of LightShed Ventures wonders if the difficulty that comes with going from app to app will help Amazon keep viewers on TNF the entire time no matter what the score of the game is. If it does, Amazon needs to work on developing programming to surround the games or start replaying the games, pre and post shows so that when you fall asleep and wake up you’re still on the same stream on Prime Video or so that coming to Prime Video for sports becomes just as much of a habit for fans as tuning in to ESPN is.
  • CNN has announced the launch of a new morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. Variety reports, “Two people familiar with plans for the show say it is likely to use big Warner Bros. properties — a visit from the cast of HBO’s Succession or sports analysis from TNT’s NBA crew — to lure eyeballs.” It’ll be interesting to see if Turner Sports becomes a cornerstone of this broadcast. Will the NBA start doing schedule releases during the show? Will a big Taylor Rooks interview debut on this show before it appears on B/R? Will the Stanley Cup or Final Four MVP do an interview on CNN’s show the morning after winning the title? Does the show do remote broadcasts from Turner’s biggest sports events throughout the year?
  • The Clippers are back on over the air television. They announced a deal with Nexstar to broadcast games on KTLA and other Nexstar owned affiliates in California. The team hasn’t reached a deal to air games on Bally Sports SoCal or Bally Sports Plus for the upcoming season. Could the Clippers pursue a solo route and start their own OTT service in time for the season? Are they talking to Apple, Amazon, or ESPN about a local streaming deal? Is Spectrum a possible destination? I think these are all possibilities but its likely that the Clippers end up back on Bally Sports since its the status quo. I just find it interesting that it has taken so long to solidify an agreement and that it wasn’t announced in conjunction with the KTLA deal. The Clippers are finally healthy this season, moving into a new arena soon, have the technology via Second Spectrum to produce immersive game casts. Maybe something is brewing?
  • ESPN’s Monday Night Football double box was a great concept. The execution sucked. Kudos to ESPN for adjusting on the fly once complaints began to lodge across social media. I think the double box works as a separate feed. ESPN2 should’ve been the home to the double box. SVP and Stanford Steve could’ve held a watch party from ESPN’s DC studio with special guests. The double box watch party on ESPN2 could’ve been interrupted whenever SVP was giving an update on games for ESPN and ABC. It would give ESPN2 a bit of a behind the scenes look at how the magic happens similarly to what MLB Tonight did last week. Credit to ESPN and the NFL for experimenting and continuing to try and give fans unique experiences.

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BSM Writers

ESPN Shows Foresight With Monday Night Football Doubleheader Timing

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7 and then 10 on their primary channel.

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The Monday Night Football doubleheader was a little bit different this time around for ESPN.

First, it came in Week 2 instead of Week 1. And then, the games were staggered 75 minutes apart on two different channels, the Titans and Bills beginning on ESPN at 7:15 PM ET and the Vikings at the Eagles starting at 8:30 PM on ABC and ESPN+. This was a departure from the usual schedule in which the games kicked off at 7:00 PM ET and then 10:00 PM ET with the latter game on the West Coast.

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7:00 PM and then 10:00 PM ET on their primary channel. That’s the typical approach, right? The NFL is the most valuable offering in all of sports and ESPN would have at least six consecutive hours of live programming without any other game to switch to.

Instead, they staggered the starts so the second game kicked off just before the first game reached halftime. They placed the games on two different channels, which risked cannibalizing their audience. Why? Well, it’s the same reason that ESPN was so excited about the last year’s Manningcast that it’s bringing it back for 10 weeks this season. ESPN is not just recognizing the reality of how their customers behave, but they’re embracing it.

Instead of hoping with everything they have that the customer stays in one place for the duration of the game, they’re recognizing the reality that they will leave and providing another product within their portfolio to be a destination when they do.

It’s the kind of experiment everyone in broadcasting should be investigating because, for all the talk about meeting the customer where they are, we still tend to be a little bit stubborn about adapting to what they do. 

Customers have more choices than ever when it comes to media consumption. First, cable networks softened the distribution advantages of broadcast networks, and now digital offerings have eroded the distribution advantages of cable networks. It’s not quite a free-for-all, but the battle for viewership is more intense, more wide open than ever because that viewer has so many options of not just when and where but how they will consume media.

Programmers have a choice in how to react to this. On the one hand, they can hold on tighter to the existing model and try to squeeze as much out of it as they can. If ESPN was thinking this way it would stack those two Monday night games one after the other just like it always has and hope like hell for a couple of close games to juice the ratings. Why would you make it impossible for your customer to watch both of these products you’ve paid so much to televise?

I’ve heard radio programmers and hosts recite take this same approach for more than 10 years now when it comes to making shows available on-demand. Why would you give your customers the option of consuming the product in a way that’s not as remunerative or in a way that is not measured?

That thinking is outdated and it is dangerous from an economic perspective because it means you’re trying to make the customer behave in your best interest by restricting their choices. And maybe that will work. Maybe they like that program enough that they’ll consume it in the way you’d prefer or maybe they decide that’s inconvenient or annoying or they decide to try something else and now this customer who would have listened to your product in an on-demand format is choosing to listen to someone else’s product entirely.

After all, you’re the only one that is restricting that customer’s choices because you’re the only one with a desire to keep your customer where he is. Everyone else is more than happy to give your customer something else. 

There’s a danger in holding on too tightly to the existing model because the tighter you squeeze, the more customers will slip through your fingers, and if you need a physical demonstration to complete this metaphor go grab a handful of sand and squeeze it hard.

Your business model is only as good as its ability to predict the behavior of your customers, and as soon as it stops doing that, you need to adjust that business model. Don’t just recognize the reality that customers today will exercise the freedom that all these media choices provide, embrace it.

Offer more products. Experiment with more ways to deliver those products. The more you attempt to dictate the terms of your customer’s engagement with your product, the more customers you’ll lose, and by accepting this you’ll open yourself to the reality that if your customer is going to leave your main offering, it’s better to have them hopping to another one of your products as opposed to leaving your network entirely.

Think in terms of depth of engagement, and breadth of experience. That’s clearly what ESPN is doing because conventional thinking would see the Manningcast as a program that competes with the main Monday Night Football broadcast, that cannibalizes it. ESPN sees it as a complimentary experience. An addition to the main broadcast, but it also has the benefit that if the customer feels compelled to jump away from the main broadcast – for whatever reason – it has another ESPN offering that they may land on.

I’ll be watching to see what ESPN decides going forward. The network will have three Monday Night Football doubleheaders beginning next year, and the game times have not been set. Will they line them up back-to-back as they had up until this year? If they do it will be a vote of confidence that its traditional programming approach that evening is still viable. But if they overlap those games going forward, it’s another sign that less is not more when it comes to giving your customers a choice in products.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: Sunday Ticket Has Problems, Marcellus Wiley Does Not

Demetri Ravanos

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On this episode of Media Noise, Demetri is joined by Brian Noe to talk about the wild year FS1’s Marcellus Wiley has had and by Garrett Searight to discuss the tumultuous present and bright future of NFL Sunday Ticket.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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