Hiring Clay Travis to be part of the team to fill Rush Limbaugh’s old time slot could not have been easier. Travis is a part of FOX Sports Radio, which is owned by Premier Networks. Limbaugh’s old show was distributed by Premier. It was a way to get some name recognition to fill the slot without having to do an exhaustive search.
For the sports side of talk radio, it brings more questions than answers. As of this writing, FOX Sports Radio has not announced what the status of their morning show is.
If Clay was up for double duty, then being owned by the same company would make it very easy for him to talk sports in the morning and the war on Christmas in the afternoon. Both networks could say they have a well-known name brand filling their respective opening, and Clay Travis could use each show to promote the other. But Travis made it clear earlier that hosting two daily radio shows will not be part of his or the network’s future plans.
That wouldn’t be the ideal path forward for FOX Sports Radio though. Remember, Limbaugh’s show generated more revenue than just about anything else in the history of radio. While Travis and his new partner Buck Sexton won’t have those expectations put on them from day one, it is a safe bet that Premier will want Travis to make the new show his top priority and FOX Sports Radio isn’t going to want to use a prime day part to play second fiddle to anyone.
With that in mind, let’s look at what FSR’s options may be.
1. MOVE AN ESTABLISHED SHOW ALREADY IN THE LINEUP
FOX Sports Radio is built on talent already known by sports fans. With that in mind, it seems like the two most likely in-house options would be moving either afternoon host Doug Gottlieb to mornings or making the same move for The Odd Couple, which airs in evenings on the East Coast.
The problem is that both shows are based on the West Coast. Travis is based in Nashville, so while a 6 am Eastern start time meant 5 am for him, it was certainly a more reasonable ask than what would be a 3 am start time in California. That doesn’t mean this option is out of the question necessarily. It’s just something to note.
Could Up on Game be another option? The show launched in late 2020 and features three former NFL players. It certainly would be very different, and FOX Sports Radio VP Scott Shapiro recently spoke very highly of the show in a conversation with BSM’s Rob Taylor.
The question Scott and Don Martin would have to answer is are these three guys capable of taking what they do once a week and translating it to three hours a day, five days a week.
2. BRING IN ANOTHER LOCAL FLAME THROWER
People that follow college football knew Clay Travis before he joined FOX Sports Radio. He already had a profile in sports radio from his time at The Zone in Nashville, but the reality is that his national profile was pushed largely by FOX Sports Radio. Can the network recreate that formula?
Some logical candidates might be Dan Dakich in Indianapolis, Mark Schlereth in Denver, or Sean Salisbury in Houston. All of them have strong names in the sports radio world. All of them deliver strong opinions on every topic.
There are plenty more options. Those are just the first three that spring to mind, because they could be utilized by both FOX Sports Radio and FS1 or FOX Sports and offset some of the cost.
3. BRING IN A BIG NAME FREE AGENT
Let’s see…who is someone that knows how to entertain on the radio, doesn’t currently have a gig, and has years of experience talking to sports fans across the country on their drive to work and/or school?
That’s right, Mike Golic, come on down!
I’m not sure this is the direction FOX Sports Radio would go, but man would it be a coup. It also would put ESPN Radio on its heels as suddenly, there might be an option for the affiliates unhappy with Golic’s exit last year.
Another, albeit less likely, possibility is Nick Wright. Granted, he isn’t truly a free agent, but after exiting SiriusXM last year, he is currently without a radio home.
Wright is based in New York City and a featured part of First Things First on FOX Sports 1. The partnership between FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports is strong, so it’s unlikely a situation would be created where Wright leaves FS1 for FOX Sports Radio, but Nick did build his career on the radio including hosting mornings in Houston. It’s a medium he’s got familiarity with. I also know that if Colin Cowherd is asked to weigh in, there’s been no more high profile champion of Wright than him.
4. CREATE YOUR OWN STARS
A few months back I wrote that with Will Cain leaving ESPN Radio, the Bristol based network had the opportunity to do what it did with Colin Cowherd and find a local host that is ready for a national stage. What if FOX did that instead? My list is still available in the event that the Don and Scott want ideas.
This may be the best way for FOX Sports Radio to do a pivot away from the formula Clay Travis followed. I don’t mean politically. This may be the best way for FOX to build a morning team and have a show that sounds like a big party instead of being centered on one dude.
So it is clear that FOX Sports Radio has options. This job will be very attractive. They also have time to make their hire, which means they have a good shot at getting this right.
Whether you loved or hated Travis, it was clear that in the sports talk world, he carved out a pretty specific niche. I don’t know if he is a “no one can do what that guy does” kind of talent, but he is certainly a talent with a very distinct presence. That means the audience will have a standard it will use to judge whatever comes next. The people making the decisions at FOX Sports Radio already know this.
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.”
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.
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.
Media Noise – Episode 45
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.
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.”
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?
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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