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We Can Create Advertising That Isn’t A Tune-Out Opportunity

“We’re a business built on creativity. Surely there is a better way to do this.”

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How do we still have stations inviting clients on air to come on for five to ten minutes to talk about beer and food specials? I heard this just the other day when monitoring a station. I won’t say where, but let’s just say that I was shocked these tune-out opportunities are still treated as viable advertising in a market this size.

Nick Abbot's Lesson 2: Turn Your Radio Off - LBC

It is so important to be able to hold on to every listener. So why do some PDs let the sales staff walk all over them and create these moments no one is sitting through? Why do sellers still think it’s a great idea to bring Big Bob from Big Bob’s Honda in the studio to talk about the new Accord?

We’re a business built on creativity. Surely there is a better way to do this. I asked two programmers what is the best way to ensure clients get that extra love the seller promised without derailing the momentum of a show.

Jeff Austin runs 1080 The Fan in Portland. He told me that working on creative solutions with sales staff is just part of the gig these days. Being available and hands-on is the only way to ensure you have some say in how these sorts of pluses show up on air.

“You have to have a strong relationship with your sales managers and your account executives. If they can depend upon you to be accessible and find the most creative and natural ways to work their clients into the fabric of the station, everyone wins,” he said. “After all, Sports radio is the ultimate format for sales-programming integration. The spoken word is not an interruption, it’s the content, and our content is fun, not life and death. Our audience is engaged, which is why we get results.”

Rob Thompson told me that he is not above bringing a client into the studio. He just doesn’t want anyone to stop the conversation to talk about the importance of air conditioner tune-ups.

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“It is very important for our listeners to get to know our biggest supporters (our top-advertisers) and to get their message out, but it has to be presented very naturally and in a ‘non-salsey’ way,” the program director of San Antonio’s Sports Star told me. “If we feature a client on the air (outside of being at their place of business doing a live show) there has to be a reason WHY we are introducing this person to the conversation we are having with the listener.”

A while back, I wrote about content that was forced on me by the bosses upstairs. Capitol Broadcasting owns the sports stations in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill market. The company also owns the Triple A Durham Bulls. My partners and I were required to talk to the manager every Tuesday. The only way we could make the segment work was by forcing the manager to talk nonsense with us. At least then, like Thompson points out, the guy becomes part of the fun and not a guy schilling dollar hot dog night.

Listeners don’t mind commercials. A lot of them know that is how our salaries get paid. Thompson says they just don’t like being told a conversation is content when it is clearly advertising.

“Sports/Talk listeners are smart, educated, and accepting until you give them a reason to get pissed.  And the easiest way to piss one off is by insulting their intelligence. If a listener feels you are trying to ‘pull one over on them’ by weaving a thinly-veiled advertising message into content, they will go South on you faster than a tornado going through a trailer park, and they may never come back to the show, or worse, hold it against the station and never cume us again.”

There is something about blatantly handing the microphone over to a client that seems outdated. We’re smart, right? The business has changed to reflect and take advantage of that.

Jeff Austin agrees. He noted that advertising strategies that made sense in 2006 don’t even scratch the surface of what a station can do for a client now.

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“The biggest difference from 15 years ago is that we can take a multi-platform approach. Back then, we had a live-only terrestrial signal and a fairly Spartan website with which to integrate our advertisers. Now, we can work for clients across our social and digital assets. Those assets also give us more opportunities for product placement – the non-spot assets like Twitter feeds, text lines and podcasts a client can own to weave their message organically into the station’s long-form content, consumed by terrestrial, streaming and on-demand listeners. It works! The audience recall for the sponsors of those assets is amazing.”

Maybe you are one of those people that don’t believe time and technology improve everything. Well, you know what they have undeniably improved? Advertising and listener interaction! Take advantage of these things and avoid putting your station and your clients in losing situations.

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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