The year-long dispute between the NCAA and radio broadcaster Westwood One has finally come to a close.
When COVID-19 caused the 2020 NCAA Tournament to be canceled, Westwood One argued that it didn’t have to pay for its radio rights to the tournament, which it has had since 2003, according to The Indiana Lawyer.
Westwood One made its first payment for the tournament in January, but didn’t follow through with the second payment due to the cancellation.
The NCAA canceled their contract with the broadcast company, but Westwood One moved to enjoin that action.
As noted in The Indiana Lawyer, The Marion Superior Court denied the injunction, finding Westwood One had “sufficient mechanisms to track and calculate any losses attributable to the termination of the Radio Agreement, including lost advertising and licensing fees, such that Westwood One could be made whole through a legal remedy.” Additionally, the court determined Westwood One had not shown irreparable harm to its goodwill or reputation through the cancellation of the contract, finding the broadcaster “has not shown it possesses a protectable goodwill interest in its relationship with March Madness … .”
Westwood One appealed, arguing that “deals with other clients could be negatively impacted if the broadcaster could no longer package the March Madness tournament with other events.”
In the end, Chief Judge Cale Bradford ruled that “Westwood One has failed to establish that the evidence unerringly leads to a conclusion opposite to the one reached by the trial court.”
Radio is a Sick Patient In Need of Surgery
“Fewer people listening for less time is a dangerous combination and should be a flashing red light that dramatic action is necessary.”
If you didn’t participate in Jacobs’ TechSurvey or see the presentation of the results, you missed radio’s annual “physical” report. With the permission and help of Fred Jacobs and Jacobs Media, this column reviews highlights (and lowlights) from the data. Jacobs Media has also provided some data specific to News/Talk fans.
When I get data, I write, a lot. Perhaps I use too many numbers? If you don’t like a lot of numbers, I’ve made it easy to find my conclusions and recommendations. You’ll find those paragraphs in bold and italics.
The results are based on over 30,000 online surveys. There are nearly 5,000 News/Talk format fans in the study. Most respondents came from radio stations’ databases. Therefore, the results tend to show radio in its most favorable light.
First, we turn briefly to the RAB website, which shows Nielsen data with Radio’s Weekly Reach consistently at 92 or 93 percent of persons 12+ from 2009 through 2013. From 2014 to 2016, the figure dropped to 91%, then to 90% in 2017. Weekly Reach fell to 89% in 2018 and 2019. The cliff came in 2020 when the percentage plunged to 83%. The most recent data suggests it will hold steady for at least another year.
Jacobs TechSurvey 2022 shows that the amount of time spent with radio is dropping among those who remain. The number listening to radio for an hour or more on a typical day has steadily eroded from 92% in 2018 to 86% this year. Again, this is among people who are in radio station databases.
Fewer people listening for less time is a dangerous combination and should be a flashing red light that dramatic action is necessary.
TechSurvey tracks the percentage of people with a radio in their homes. The number has consistently shrunk, from 88% in 2018 to 81% this year.
The device known as “a radio “is also in fewer people’s homes and consciousness. This finding has profound implications for broadcast radio.
Twelve percent (12%) of total respondents say they are listening to radio less. Half of those spending less time listening say it is because they are in the car less. Similarly, 48% are listening less because of “lifestyle changes.” During the TechSurvey webinar, Fred Jacobs pointed out that Covid affects these levels. Before the pandemic, “less time in the car” consistently received about 30%. Last year it jumped to 71%. At 50%, Jacobs concluded, “we’re not back to normal yet.”
Less time in the car during Covid and lifestyle changes are not actionable but important to keep in mind. Still, the impact of technology and management decisions is clear.
Among those listening less:
- 33% say it’s because they have more audio options in the car,
- 26% report it is because they use their mobile phones or apps more.
- 21% mention listening to Sirius XM instead.
- 19% are spending more time with Podcasts or on-demand content.
The new reality is these technologies are the competition. Each one is a reason why broadcasters must produce better content than ever.
- 27% state too many commercials are why they listen less.
- 20% say they are not enjoying the programming.
Radio broadcasters cannot afford to make short-term programming decisions in today’s hyper-competitive environment. At the risk of preaching to the choir, loading up on low-rate commercials may drag a station, cluster, or company over the finish line for the month, but the long-term damage to the entire industry is immeasurable. The same is true about hanging on to shows that, you know (deep down inside), lack star power. Anything less than “error-free” is a suicide trap.
TechSurvey 2022 draws attention to the audio options consumers have in the car. The data also shows that these options are becoming increasingly easy to access.
Eight out of ten (80%) who own a smartphone and spend time in a vehicle can connect the phone to their car. The percentage who can connect their phone and vehicle has steadily risen from 73 in 2018 to 80%.
The numbers for those who will connect their phones and vehicles will undoubtedly rise. The data shows that 12 or 13% plan to buy a new car annually. This year, Bluetooth (76%) overtook FM Radio (70%) as the most important feature new car buyers want (last year, FM Radio led 74 to 73 percent). AM Radio is an important feature for just 33%.
Increasing numbers now have full audio entertainment systems or “connected cars.” Between 2018 and 2022, the number of connected cars rose from 24% to 30%. We should expect that number to increase by several percentage points every year.
Connected cars don’t bode well for AM/FM radio listening. TechSurvey asks respondents to estimate what percentage of time they spend listening to AM/FM Radio in the car. Since 2018 the number has steadily gotten lower, dropping from 62 to 56% overall. However, among those with connected cars, the time spent with AM/FM radio drops to 47%. A positive finding for News/Talk stations is format fans still devote 61% of their time to AM/FM listening,
Technology is changing how people tune in to radio, not just in the car but also at home and work. Participants estimate how much time they spend listening to their favorite station on various platforms in a typical week. Tuning in via a “traditional” radio accounts for 61% of respondents’ listening time. They spend 35% of their time with digital delivery methods (Computer stream – 17%, Mobile apps – 8%, smart speakers – 6%, podcasts – 4%). In 2013 85% of listening was through traditional radios, with 14% digitally. Today it’s traditional 61%, digital 35%. News/Talk format fans are slightly more likely to listen on traditional radios (65% vs. 31% digital).
Fewer people have radios, and less listening is on “traditional” devices. As people listen more on other devices, they increase their options. Again, radio must play “error-free.” Mistakes aren’t just an invitation to punch and see what the competition is doing. An error is an opportunity for the consumer to flip the game board over and play a different game.
The Jacobs presentation notes: “Mobile devices and apps continue their amazing growth trajectory.” Among P1 listeners who stream, they use the stations’ website less (68% – 65% – 61%), and its mobile app more (42% – 46% – 48%) since 2020. Further, station fans are aware of and downloading station apps in increasing numbers. It probably shouldn’t surprise anybody because of who is in the sample, but the P1 stations’ own app is the most downloaded radio or music app. What may surprise some is iHeartRadio at just 32% and Audacity below 9%.
I believe using aggregate apps exclusively for local radio stations is a colossal blunder. I understand the corporate sales philosophy. The revenue results suggest that using aggregate apps is not the answer to combat the revenue of the others on the chart. Many radio stations have spent decades building a brand. Creating new aggregated app brands merely allows the other names on the chart the time to bloom (excuse the pun). Long ago, my friend Pierre Bouvard drilled into my head that changing images is like melting icebergs with a Bic lighter. Aggregate radio apps are Climate Change for radio.
TechSurvey asks the reasons why people listen to AM/FM radio. The top three reasons:
- Easiest to listen to in a car: 65%. Here’s an advantage radio has had but is rapidly losing.
- DJs/Shows/Hosts: 62%. This year, a major finding is that among all respondents, personalities have become more important than music.
- It’s Free: 59%.
We look here specifically at News/Talk listeners compared to the entire survey:
Among News/Talk format fans, staying informed about news leaps ahead of all other answers, including: “easiest to listen to in the car” (4th 57%) and even “enjoy the talk shows” (second at 67%).
TechSurvey suggests information elements are a critical part of the mix to these listeners, even among talk show fans.
Following “enjoy talk shows” is a more specific mention of hosts and personalities (61%).
More than half (54%) of News/Talk fans say they listen to AM/FM radio to find out “what’s going on locally.” In the overall sample, 35% list local as a reason for listening to AM/FM radio.
Local is a potent weapon for managers and programmers of News/Talk Radio stations. Local should be kept in mind when making personnel, topic, strategy, and promotional decisions.
I believe one of the advantages that radio should have over the new digital options is brand equity and heritage. These ideas show up in statements such as “feel a connection with radio” and “in the habit of listening.”
Talk Radio fans report both branding measures below the overall average (“Habit” 54% overall vs. 45% among News/Talk fans and “connection” 51% for the total compared with 48% for News/Talk fans).
The lower scores on these measures suggest that, overall, News/Talk stations need to work on appointment building, listening occasions, and strengthening the relationship between the station and listeners.
Thanks, Fred and everyone at Jacobs Media, for doing the hard work and running News/Talk data for us. I encourage as many stations as possible to participate in next year’s TechSurvey. Your data will drive better decisions.
If this was a patient, say Mr. or Ms. Radio, and the TechSurvey 2022 data were the results from a physical, we would conclude that we had a very sick person. We might call it an emergency. Please, while there still is a pulse.
WFAN, WCBS Become New Flagship For Rutgers Football, Men’s Basketball
“The multi-year deal begins with the 2022-23 season.”
Rutgers University and Audacy have announced an agreement that will make WFAN and WCBS the flagship stations for the school’s football and men’s basketball teams.
The multi-year deal begins with the 2022-23 season.
“Rutgers athletics is on the rise under Greg Schiano and Steve Pikiell in the Big Ten, bringing excitement and anticipation to Tri-State area fans,” said Chris Oliviero, Market President, Audacy New York. “WFAN and WCBS 880 will provide listeners with unmatched coverage of the Scarlet Knights and we are honored to add Rutgers to Audacy’s market-leading play-by-play portfolio.”
A 30-minute pregame and postgame show will air on WFAN for all Rutgers football games, while basketball games on WCBS will get a 15-minute pregame and postgame show.
Games will be able to be streamed locally on the Audacy app, and the company said both stations will promote the partnership on-air and digitally, in addition to on-campus events throughout the school year.
Papa & Lund Make Andy Masur Defend BSM Column
“Masur wrote that Barkley’s personality, and his fit on the Inside the NBA set alongside Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith, makes him such a magnet for attention and the most valuable broadcaster in sports.”
BSM columnist Andy Masur turned some heads with his recent piece on Charles Barkley.
Masur wrote that Barkley’s personality, and his fit on the Inside the NBA set alongside Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith, makes him such a magnet for attention and the most valuable broadcaster in sports.
Masur appeared on Papa & Lund on KNBR in San Francisco on Thursday and defended that stance about Barkley.
“He dishes it out and he can take it too, which is a quality that a lot of people don’t possess these days unfortunately in our business and out of our business,” Masur said. “I just think that if he says something completely outlandish and it doesn’t completely come through, he expects that he’s gonna get grief for it the next time they’re on the set together. And they usually deliver to give it to him.”
Hosts Greg Papa and John Lund both said you can’t deny Barkley’s personality is part of what makes him as popular as he is. Their issue lies in the fact that Barkley can be quick to say things that aren’t true.
Masur said it’s on Barkley’s TNT colleagues to correct him, which a lot of times they do.
“It’s a double-edged sword too because I think like you said, what we do as far as play-by-play and what Ernie has to do as a show guy, I don’t think that Ernie is in the same boat as we would be if our color commentator made a mistake,” he said. “But I think that Ernie has the ability to step in there, or Shaq, or even Kenny has the ability to step in there and say, ‘No man you’re wrong and here, look at the facts.’ I think that even is more entertaining sometimes too than just the fact that he’s throwing out things and trying to throw them against the wall and see what sticks.”