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Are Dan Le Batard & DraftKings a Good Fit?

“Companies getting involved in the content business is good news. Companies investing in established products and then changing the content to fit their message? That’s not so great.”

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You don’t have to be a fan of Dan Le Batard to celebrate Tuesday’s news that DraftKings is investing $50 million in The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz and Meadowlark Media. Another company chose to get into the interesting business. That is good news for any content creator.

Dan Le Batard leaving ESPN in January - Sports Illustrated

As a fan of the show, I was elated to read the news when it first dropped. A little over 24 hours later, I am still happy the Le Batard crew’s gamble to leave ESPN paid off. My elation has turned to optimism with a side of “wait and see” though.

Companies getting involved in the content business is good news. Companies investing in established products and then changing the content to fit their message? That’s not so great.

I wouldn’t say that is what I think DraftKings will do to Dan Le Batard, Stugotz, and the Shipping Container. It is a worry that lives in the front of my mind though. I get the show, but the second the show becomes more picks than actual conversation, I’m out.

Gambling is a trend sports radio has to embrace if the format is going to continue to thrive. My question has always been ‘is sports radio embracing gambling at a rate considerably faster than the population actually is’? Are shows more into gambling content than the actual audience is?

Jeremiah Crowe, program director of KNBR in San Francisco told me that the embrace of gambling by sports radio reminded him of his days in Bristol. While with ESPN Radio, the staff was told to treat fantasy sports in the exact opposite way. It was a fad. Niche talk was reserved for weekend shows and podcasts and that was good enough.

Crowe says gambling is different though, because laws had to change for sports gambling to enjoy its current boom. It means plenty of these companies are now in the market for the very first time.

“This time around with sports gambling, everyone is diving in head-first because of the huge advertising blitz,” he told me in an email. “You have the likes of DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars Ent, MGM, etc (not to mention hundreds of local/regional casino resorts) all battling for impressions, ad inventory and the all-important ‘install base’ for their apps. Specifically DraftKings & FanDuel are masters of the universe, as millions of people installed those two apps BEFORE the major states began to legalize sports gambling. That’s an insane head start to have on everyone, especially the casino operators limited to Nevada for the better part of a century.”

Forgive the pun, but Crowe doesn’t see embracing this money and these advertisers as a gamble. It is just good business in his mind.

“Sports radio talent with a national brand are smart to push their proverbial chips to the middle here, because the big advertising/endorsement money is likely already inside their buildings (as opposed to smaller fantasy & podcasting opportunities), not to mention the much younger audience that is engaging with these gaming operators on a daily basis. We’re not betting on sports gambling content at that point, it’s a no-lose proposition.”

I am not saying that I know better, nor am I saying that Jeremiah is wrong. His points make a lot of sense. But are the financial numbers blinding the industry to the potential for the bottom to fall out? It’s easy to draw a parallel between gambling and drugs. Sure, there are people that are passionate about them, but a much larger part of the audience has never done them and many never will. If Dan Le Batard or any other talent who’s built their reputation and fanbase on something other than gambling starts working in talk about spreads and money lines, doesn’t that alienate the people that made them popular enough to invest in in the first place?

Gavin Spittle of 105.3 in Dallas told me I am focusing on the wrong word in the phrase “sports betting content.” The numbers don’t have to be the content.

“We can use this information to our advantage,” the Dallas PD told me. “I think sports betting has the stigma of just reading spreads and making predictions. The evolution is tremendous as far as various information. It’s an amazing show prep tool when used correctly. Once again, the focus is on good content and analytics if used right can help fuel that content.”

Gavin Spittle (@gjspittle) | Twitter

Gavin also says that any concern about DraftKings trying to change what Dan Le Batard does is overblown.

“[DraftKings] are partnering with the show for a reason. They want to be a part of quality content. I think DraftKings is really smart in their partnerships. As is FanDuel, who we have a partnership with. They are highly visible and much of their content becomes organic.”

Crowe agrees. He doesn’t think DraftKings has to be shy about shoehorning its message in LeBatard’s show, but he also thinks the company is smart enough to know it doesn’t need to do business that way.

“Dan’s the perfect talent to try new advertising models with because he’s great at making ad integrations funny & entertaining. In a way, if the copy comes across corny or over-the-top, he’ll be brutally honest and crush the script live on the air…but in a good way that will create a memorable moment that ADDS value to the client and agency. Advertisers want on-air talent to buy into the ‘ad-lib’ mentality where their message seamlessly fits into the flow of a show. He’s the perfect fit for DraftKings in every regard, mainly because he doesn’t fit the formulaic and decades-old ‘dive-in, reset, tease, hit the clock’ approach preached by all big box corporate operators. I’d think Dan and his crew will thrive in the DraftKings ecosystem where pushing the boundaries IS the mission statement.”

When the new partnership was announced, Dan Le Batard told The Miami Herald “The thing that I chose was freedom. Every time I’ve negotiated anywhere was for freedom, not money.”

That sets my mind at ease, as do the points made by both Gavin Spittle and Jeremiah Crowe. Still, I don’t think it is unfair to wonder if at some point, DraftKings will flex its monetary muscle.

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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