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It’s Time For Broadcasters To Hit The Road Again

“How is this logical or allowed? Is there a plan in place? Are the players or teams holding up the process?”

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Sports Broadcast Journal

Remote broadcasting is not ideal. It’s not easy for the broadcasters and it’s not fair to the fans. With the Country coming out of the COVID pandemic, it’s time for the announcing teams to get back on the road where they belong. For a number of reasons, some not based solely on health and safety, many local broadcast teams are stuck at home. Shortchanging their viewers and listeners. 

I know why we had to call games from one location last year. There was a virus infecting and killing people all over the world. So, while it wasn’t ideal, it was necessary. I always felt like the listeners weren’t getting the complete feel when the game was in one location and I was in another. We all chalked it up to “Well, at least we’re playing and working.”

MLB Draft 2020: ESPN Continues Run of Virtual Drafts With First MLB Edition  Since 2008
Courtesy:  Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images

Truth. No complaints. Now?

It’s time to get back on the road. 

It was reported this week that the national broadcasters, like Joe Buck, will be on site for some games in the weeks to come. Fox, ESPN and Turner are all planning to have their people on-site for at least some broadcasts, per the report. But the same accommodations are not being made for many of the local television broadcasts. The decision on the local TV folks is being made by the individual RSN’s.  

What makes no sense, is that only some radio broadcasts are traveling. Why radio and not TV? I’m sure some of it is money. Many of the RSN’s took it on the chin last season with a shortened schedule and uncertainty with advertising money coming in. It’s not a great look for any of these companies, especially since baseball is allowing more and more fans to attend games. Now just some of the broadcast booths will be empty.

How is this logical or allowed? Is there a plan in place? Are the players or teams holding up the process? Dodgers TV broadcaster Joe Davis spoke to the Athletic, saying he’s heard many things about why some broadcast teams aren’t traveling. 

“I’ve heard, ‘Well, the players don’t want the rights holders back on the plane,’” he said. “Of course, they don’t, I wouldn’t either. But is that their decision? Or is it team by team? Or is it Major League Baseball? I don’t know the answers to those things. So honestly, it’s been so up and down and all over the place on what has to happen for us to travel, I’ve just kind of stopped thinking about it because it feels like wasted energy at this point.”

There is a lot to digest here. Can teams or radio/tv stations say no? For some the answer is yes. One radio company that has many play-by-play rights across the league has a travel ban in place. Audacy stations are preventing their radio broadcasters from traveling. It’s to the point where the company won’t reimburse announcers if they want to travel on their own. Very interesting. There’s no word on how long this “ban” will be in effect, leaving broadcasters to wonder if they’ll get to a road game this season. 

As far as the teams, I wouldn’t think an individual club would say no to their broadcasters traveling if the organization meets the 85 percent vaccination threshold. More and more teams are meeting the criteria, once again eliminating another excuse for not sending the announcers along with the team to road games. Especially if the announcer himself/herself is fully vaccinated. 

Now in conjunction with that point, the opposing team, the home team in this case may object to visiting broadcasters being in their park. With social distancing, some organizations reconfigured their broadcast booths to allow for the use of multiple monitors in the space. So actual room could be a problem. I say, if the opposing team fit in your press box before the pandemic, they’ll fit in there now. 

Baseball broadcasting is not as easy as the folks doing it right now make it look or sound. Trust me, there is a lot that goes into it. The job done last year by these announcing crews should be commended and lauded. It’s hard enough to do the job when the game is front of you, let alone many miles away. 

Wondering how a baseball broadcast is done remotely? Here's the Jays booth  from Toronto : baseball
Courtesy: SportsNet

The RSN’s and radio stations not allowing travel are only doing a disservice to themselves, their own product and their audiences. As much as broadcasters try to call a seamless game from half a country away in some cases, it’s not the same as being there. It is just not and you can’t tell me it is. If it’s safe for ballparks to be opened to full capacity there should be no reason not to travel announcers. With most seats in ballparks being filled, empty seats in the broadcast booth are unacceptable. 

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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