It’s no surprise other platforms are interested in Paul Finebaum, but will ESPN let their popular sportscaster walk? According to Bobby Burack of The Big Lead, Finebaum met with former ESPN president and current executive chairman of DAZN Group John Skipper, signaling mutual interest between the two.
Since DAZN launched in Germany and Japan in 2016, entering the U.S. market in 2018, the OTT subscription sports service has continued to expand at a rapid and expensive rate. Last month DAZN began seeking new investment funds, but interest in Finebaum could mean they still have budget room for potential high-priced talent.
It was Skipper who brought Finebaum to the Worldwide Leader in 2013 and according to The Big Lead, they were discussing a contract extension for well over $3 million annually when the ESPN president surprisingly left in 2017. Contract negotiations stalled without Skipper as Finebaum neared free agency in 2018, but ESPN and the college football expert ultimately agreed to a deal averaging around $2 million per year.
Finebaum remains under contract with ESPN, after having just signed the extension in July 2018. As The Big Lead notes, Finebaum is represented by Nick Kahn of CAA. Kahn previously negotiated huge deals in the $6 million per year range for Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd to leave ESPN for FS1. FS1’s president at the time, Jamie Horowitz, is now DAZN’s current EVP of content. Kahn and Finabaum both having relationships with DAZN decision-makers could help the OTT service lure the sportscaster away from ESPN.
As DAZN develops, they’ve invested heavily in fight sports, including a $1 billion partnership with Matchroom Boxing and signing boxer Canelo Alvarez to a $365 million contract. DAZN (pronounced “da-zone”). While they continue to be interested in live sports, DAZN also recently partnered with Pat McAfee and Westwood One, displaying a radio/simulcast model that could be replicated for other talent like Finebaum.
16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
The news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.
The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in their latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets.
The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.
New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend
More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.
In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.
Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.
Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.
Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time
Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:
“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”
Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.
Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.