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Can You Get A Difficult Player To Talk To You?

“Some players can’t separate the person from the “media”, they lump us all together and don’t give us a chance. That’s fine, just go on doing your thing and continue to be professional.”

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If you’re in this business long enough, you’re bound to come across a player or a coach that is just not fun to deal with. Why? It’s like asking, “why does the sun rise in the East?”, we don’t know, it just does. 

Sometimes it’s because a player got burned by talking in the past. Other times the person just doesn’t like dealing with the media. In a few instances it’s because a player is a misunderstood person with issues unrelated to anything you did or didn’t do. Sometimes it’s just because they just don’t like to interact with others. Do your best to cultivate a relationship, but don’t let it define your season. 

Image result for saban so quit asking

Over the years I’ve encountered many of those things I covered in the opening paragraph. I’ll share some of the ways I dealt with these situations, without naming the player or coach because that’s not what’s important. 

Early in my baseball career Player A was all the rage. He made the difference in many games for Team A and yet was impossible to deal with. The player was often moody and would never agree to do a pregame interview on the Flagship Radio Station. Since I was kind of new to the “game”, it started to really bother me. I thought that maybe I had done something to rub Player A wrong. After consulting with other members of the media, I was not alone in his avoidance. TV was where he wanted to be, so every once in a while, he’d appear on their pregame show. Begrudgingly through the intervention of the Media Relations staff, we’d get him, but it was never a comfortable encounter. I justified having him because this was a well-known player and we just needed to have him, good, bad or indifferent. 

I have found, and even have mentioned this in previous columns, that a conversation with a player, without your microphone can go a long way. Especially if it’s a difficult person to deal with, getting to know the human outside of the player can pay dividends. Introduce yourself, tell him what you do for the club or radio station. Ask him/her about routines or rituals that they go through before a game. If you are going to need them eventually for a pregame show, this is a great way to find out when that player is available to do the interview.

One player I met a while back, Player B, was very clear about when I could or couldn’t bug him for the show. So, I knew going in that if he was just hanging out at his locker chatting with teammates and basically facing the room, it was a good time. If he was facing his locker, he was either reading a scouting report or attending to personal business and I knew it was not a good time. This information was invaluable to me. Plus, he was impressed that I took the time to get to know him and his activities before a game. 

Image result for locker room sitting

Persistence can pay off as well. In Player C’s case, he was having a rough go of it to begin the season. He’d had a few run ins with some of the beat reporters and was really considered an “off limits” guy. Nobody wanted to approach him. I wanted to get him on the pregame show in the worst way.

One day I walked up to him and before I could even say anything, he basically shooed me away. Ok I thought, I’m going to get him. I let a couple of days go by and approached again. I think Player C was shocked to see me come up to him again. This time he at least let me ask the question “can I get you for a couple of minutes for pregame?”. He said no, but it was a polite no this time. I told him that I was going to get him on one day soon and that I’d keep asking. Not sure he believed me. But there I was again two days later. He asked me what I wanted to talk to him about. I said, let’s talk about your start and what’s been going wrong. I want you to explain what you’re doing to get back to form. He seemed to still be on guard and wasn’t exactly bending over backwards to do the interview. It got a bit contentious but after it was over, some 17 minutes later, I had great stuff and learned why Player C was so reluctant to talk. There were some issues going on with him off the field. Issues no player should ever have to go through, let’s just leave it at that. I had a newfound respect for a guy that I didn’t really like going into the chat. He and I are still friendly to this day. 

I’ve also found that on occasion, you can break the ice with a difficult to deal with player simply by him/her seeing your association with other players on his/her team.  It really can be that simple. If you’ve developed a relationship with some of the key players and leaders on a team, you tend to ingratiate yourself with those that might otherwise be a little difficult to deal with.  

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Let’s face facts, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. For whatever reason the player won’t crack and give you the time of day, let alone an interview. From my experience this is the exception, not the norm. Don’t let it bother you. Most of the time as mentioned it has absolutely nothing to do with you.

Some players can’t separate the person from the “media”, they lump us all together and don’t give us a chance. That’s fine, just go on doing your thing and continue to be professional. Don’t go around bad mouthing that player because in this day and age, they usually find out. Then there is no chance of ever getting him/her to talk to you. 

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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