Week One of the NFL was back this past weekend in all its glory.
Being the radio nerd that I am, I often spend my Sunday mornings and late afternoons/evenings flipping between various local pre and postgame shows around the country.
While I was impressed by a few, I was sadly disappointed by many. One host sounded so disinterested, it felt like he didn’t even want to be on the air. Another show consisted of three guys rambling about the game and offering no useful information. Another was doing a show from a crowded bar, and you could hardly hear him amongst the background noise. Another host spent half a segment trying to figure out how the phone system worked because calls kept dropping.
One of the most telling things that explained the prevailing attitude towards pre and postgame shows was said by a former GM of mine.
“These shows exist for one reason, to sell remotes and run extra commercials,” they said.
Based on the litany of programs I listened to on Sunday, that philosophy continued to ring true.
I’ve long been of the belief that, more than any other sport, during NFL season, pregame and postgame shows MATTER.
NFL Sundays have long been national holidays. If you’re a sports station you have 17 of them every season (and if you have a decent team in town, even more). You need to treat these days like you’re covering a special, all-day event…BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT IT IS. You have a window of opportunity to grab the attention of listeners in your market ALL DAY, EACH WEEK for SIX MONTHS. This is a golden opportunity and needs to be treated as such. You can’t do that being low rent.
Pregame shows really set the tone for the day. Sure, you want to talk about the game at hand and get in any last-minute info that’s relevant before kickoff. But SO much more is needed. Now more than ever, there is a real THIRST for information from listeners. People spend their Sunday mornings getting their fantasy football lineups, picks, parlays, and teasers set. The onus is on programmers and content managers to set these up the right way and with the right people. Make the pregame show a one-stop shop for all this info so consumers don’t have to flip between different shows to get it.
Postgame shows can be the ultimate destination once a game goes final. Fans need a place to celebrate, vent and grieve. They want to hear instant analysis and relevant info on the game that they hadn’t heard before. Not just the stats (which they can get from any number of apps), but the anecdotal; the WHY. They want to hear what the coach and starting QB and other relevant players had to say…not just in their pressers but on their social media channels.
It’s so easy to be successful producing quality NFL pre and post-game shows. I’ve always tried to go by four principles.
1 – HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE
In my many years as a PD, I’ve consistently used my best weekday talent on pre or postgame shows. NFL Sundays are PREMIUM days, and you should use PREMIUM talent. Sometimes, that requires you to pay more. So what? It’s worth the investment. Your hosts and contributors need to be worth tuning in for.
Are they proven fantasy football winners? Can they make me money and help me beat the spread? Do they know things about the team that other people don’t? Do they have a passion for the team they’re covering and can generate can’t miss content? These are all questions you need to answer honestly before you set your gameday lineup. You can’t just throw a bone to the afternoon show producer because he or she will do it on the cheap.
2 – DISH OUT THE RIGHT INFO
Have your segments drawn up and run them TIGHT. This is not a day where you want to be caught rambling or taking bad phone calls. You need to get out all the info that listeners are clamoring for and push them out as fast as you can on your things that matter, and you need to make sure that all this info is being pushed out both on-air and on all your social channels.
At a MINIMUM:
- Fantasy Football info
- Gambling info
- Live check ins-from the stadium
- Last minute “insider” info
- Repurposing of any GOOD coach/player audio from the week
- Instant analysis and reaction
- Coach/player pressers
- A look at what players are posting on their social channels
- Listener calls and texts (quality over quantity)
- Highlights from the game
3 – KEEP IT IN STUDIO
I have long had an absolute hatred of remote broadcasts. Yes, I realize that they are often low-hanging fruit when it comes to generating revenue. But in most cases, the actual quality of what comes out of the speaker goes right down the toilet.
If you MUST do a pregame and postgame show on-location, do everything you can to set it up for success. Make sure that you have a dedicated hard-wired broadcast connection and that said connection is installed and tested in advance of EVERY show. Always have a backup in the event that the broadcast line goes down (because at some point, it will). Make sure your hosts are in a location where they can do their jobs and not be bothered by drunk patrons. Most importantly, set up your broadcast in a spot that shelters them from too much ambient noise, so listeners won’t have an unpleasant experience when they tune in.
4 – TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THE AUDIENCE
If you’re the flagship, you need to be sure to highlight all the access you get that the other outlets don’t. You should have exclusive audio from the head coach and starting QB teed up after the game.
If you aren’t the flagship, you still need to act like you OWN the fan base. It doesn’t take much energy for a listener to push a button if you give them a reason to do so. Your hosts need to beat the drum that their show is the place to be before and after the game.
Some of the best pre and postgame shows were on outlets that didn’t carry any actual games. If you have the right hosts and contributors in place, you can put together programs that can gain loyal fanbases every week.
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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