Major League Baseball is back and the Oakland Athletics are again available to fans on terrestrial radio in the Bay Area.
Since February, the A’s were planning to forgo a traditional radio partner for the 2020 season, but on Thursday, the club announced a return to the terrestrial airwaves in the form of iHeart’s Bloomberg 960 AM KNEW. Beginning Friday, July 31, the financial and business news station licensed in Oakland will carry the A’s remaining 54 games of the season.
During the 2019 season, Oakland Athletics games were heard locally on 860 The Answer, but the team also launched their streaming platform A’s Cast through an exclusive partnership with TuneIn. The club’s newly announced partnership with Bloomberg 960 will also see a digital shift for the organization, with A’s Cast moving from TuneIn to a larger platform in iHeart.
When the club announced in February that their radio broadcast would be on A’s Cast only, the decision was met with a lot of criticism by fans.
“We’ve always prided ourselves in listening to our fans,” A’s team president Dave Kaval told Shayna Rubin of The Mercury News. “And I think for a lot of fans, this was something that was important for them. We wanted to find an option that worked.”
In addition to listening to the fans, COVID-19 likely played a significant role as to why the A’s flipped on their digital-only plans just six games into the season. Local radio stations may have been more eager to pick up the adjusted 50-60 game shortened baseball schedule, than the 162 broadcasts the A’s were trying to sell in the winter.
“One of the biggest challenges we always had is the radio station, they just didn’t have the time to either sell us or partner with us for our games,” Kaval added when speaking with The Mercury News. “So, they’d say, ‘Oh, we’ll take 20 games or 40 games,’ but that doesn’t work. You can’t be on seven different channels.”
While fans now have a new way of consuming the games, not much changes for the A’s radio broadcasters. Announcers Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo were already heard on A’s Cast and a dozen smaller stations outside the Bay Area, the new partnership with Bloomberg 960 will simply better serve their local fan base.
SURVEY: 16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
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 Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, All 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 its 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.