The 2020 NBA Finals are now set as the Miami Heat will take on the Los Angeles Lakers beginning Wednesday night (9 p.m ET, ABC). For the Lakers, LeBron James will be playing in his 10th NBA Finals and going for his fourth championship, but one ESPN analyst thinks this could be one of the more polarizing championships of all-time.
On Friday’s Keyshawn, J-Will, and Zubin, Jay Williams gave his thoughts on what another title would mean for James in one of the craziest years we have ever seen. This segment, took place in the second hour of the show before the Lakers won Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Friday night.
“This would be his greatest/most controversial title in the history of sports. It really would be,” Williams said. “There is a major dichotomy happening right now in the two worlds that we are in. For all the things Keyshawn mentioned, Kobe Bryant dying, pandemic, going to the bubble, dealing with all the social injustice in the world. To rise up and to win a NBA title would be insane with all of the weight LeBron James is carrying.
“There will be one side of the country that will look at it and acknowledge it that way. There will be another side of the country that refuses to want to see LeBron James win. They do not want to see him win on and off the court. Let’s call it for exactly what it is. There will be a subset of this country that is not going to like it and that’s going to be what it is for the rest of his life.”
“Everybody got an opinion. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what that opinion is because all that matters is the people that respect LeBron and they respect him regardless of what they tell you,” Keyshawn Johnson responded. “That’s why when people say we don’t watch this, you do, you watch. That’s why you comment.”
Williams mentioned that this would be the greatest title of James’s career if the Lakers take down the Miami Heat. It was shocking to hear a national pundit say that there could be a better title win for LeBron than leading the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Finals. It was even more shocking to hear Keyshawn Johnson agree.
“If he wins in LA with everything that has endured,” Johnson said, “it would not be close. LA would be the one.”
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.