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Covid-19 Has Closed Atlantic City, But It Can’t Beat Mike Gill

“I just had Sal Paolantonio on Friday, he’s from the area and said if they don’t open the Jersey Shore for the summer it would be like the impact of having like five hurricanes rip through here.”

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Not being able to talk about live sports is one thing, but throw in the inability to talk about gambling and it’s a whole other element. As casinos across the country remain closed, that means sports gambling has essentially come to a complete halt after gaining a ton of traction over the past year. 

In Atlantic City, casinos have been closed since March 16th. Over the course of a month, that equals to around 500 million dollars in lost revenue. Factor that in with the entire Jersey Shore being shut down and it’s easy to see how the local economy in South Jersey has been hit hard. 

Slots turn off, tables go dark. Inside Atlantic City when all ...

Mike Gill, program director and host at 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, is seeing the effects that closed casinos is having on the area. Most notably, with the absence of sports gambling for content. 

“Yeah, that’s been an interesting challenge,” said Gill. “We really started to add sports gambling content during the football season and that’s been almost completely stripped away. I mean we still try to throw out these segments, where, we’re looking at futures and tying it into the Eagles, which is the local team here, but it has essentially become a non-entity for us for the time being.

“But we’re trying to get creative with different future bets and some fun things. Look, at this point we’re trying to have as much fun as possible while the format sheet is out the window. If you can find something to entertain, we’re all about it. They have betting odds on, and I haven’t seen the Tiger King, but they have future odds on that show as well as others. We are utilizing it as much as we can but it’s certainly not where it was when it got legalized at first.”

When you’ve tried to establish gambling content on your local programming and it’s suddenly taken away, that can be a big adjustment. So, as both a PD and a host, you have to trust your instincts during a time like this on what’s still going to hit. Granted, with the NFL being the main show in town, things have been easier for Atlantic City than for non-football markets, but finding the perfect balance over the past month has been a day-to-day grind for most hosts. 

“I’m trying to find a balance of not going so far off the reservation, in terms of talking about sports, but we’ve just been trying to have fun,” said Gill. “Last week we did a segment where my producer had all the NBA Jam rosters from like 1994. I had to try and guess the two players that were on the NBA Jam rosters for each team. So we had fun with that and had the NBA Jam music playing in the background. 

“We had the 76ers Process quiz where I had all the players that played for the Sixers during The Process years and I will give you clues and listeners had to text in who I was talking about before my producer got it right. We’re just trying to be creative and have fun but we find people like the nostalgia of hearing the names of guys that played in the 90s. Again, we want to have fun but we don’t want to get into crazy political stuff in this time.”

Mike Gill > 97.3 ESPN ? Page 15

Two weeks ago, Jay Recher shared how 95.3 WDAE in Tampa Bay is openly trying to promote business in the area that are open. It’s a good deed for the community and has grown in popularity. It’s cool to see so many stations use their platform to help other local businesses during this time of need. And don’t be surprised to see good deeds being paid back to the stations that helped after the economy picks back up. 

97.3 ESPN is doing their own variation of showing their support to the public by recognizing those who are on the front lines of the pandemic. It’s a small gesture but still goes a long way in the community.

“I’m doing something, where I ask, once an hour, for listeners to text the name and a photo of somebody who’s a first responder, grocery store worker, on the police force or firefighters and we put their name and picture up on the website. Once an hour we read off all the names and recognize the people who are still working during this time.”

Normally during this time, the Jersey Shore is prepping for another busy summer. It’s how many local businesses in the area stay afloat for the entire year and make their living. But with everything except non-essential businesses being shut down across the country, billions of dollars could be lost if things in South Jersey are still closed during the summer. This, obviously, would kill local businesses and would have a direct effect on Gill’s station. 

“It hasn’t hit us yet, because the peak season has gotten a little later here than it used to be,” Gill said. “It’s usually around the Fourth of July where our tourism season really kind of kicks off now. That’s when the schools are out in Philadelphia when everybody comes down here. If that happens, and I just had Sal Paolantonio on Friday, he’s from the area and said if they don’t open the Jersey Shore for the summer it would be like the impact of having like five hurricanes rip through here.”

Now it just got really serious. Is that an overreaction? I’d actually tend to trust Paolantonio’s opinion on this, seeing as it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. But that paints a picture to just how bad the economic impact of Covid-19 can be on Atlantic City. And by now you know, the more local businesses are hurt, the more sports radio stations are hurt, too. 

March Sadness In Atlantic City: A Walk On The Boardwalk After Shutdown

God willing, football is going to happen and everything will be just fine. Let’s start believing that. But every station owner and PD is at least trying to project what things would look like for their respective station if football doesn’t happen. When you’re the South Jersey affiliate for the Eagles, everything seemingly rides on a successful fall season. 

“It’s probably our station’s biggest sellable time,” Gill said of football season. “At this point, I’m kind of in the camp where, if it gets off the ground on time, I don’t see how they have people in the building. Are you going to have some sort of configuration of people sitting in every third seat from each other? I don’t think people are going to feel safe going right back to 60,000 and 70,000 seat stadiums. I don’t see that happening on time. The other problem is I don’t see the training camps getting started on time. I don’t know if that matters to them, they had a lockout in 2011, and they seemed to not need all that stuff but I would be pretty shocked if opening weekend had full stadiums.”

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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