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Darren Smith: NFL Won’t Change While Networks Get Millions for Super Bowl Ads

“Yeah, no network is turning down $7 million for a 30-second spot.”

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XTRA 1360

Just over a week away from Super Bowl LVI, NBCUniversal announced that it has sold out its advertising inventory for the “Big Game” across all platforms, with some 30-second spots selling for $7 million each.

NBC’s audience for National Football League games grew over the season, with the most viewership coming from quarterback Tom Brady’s return to New England to face his old team. During the championship round of the playoffs, CBS announced it had an average of 47.9 million viewers tuned in for the AFC Championship game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs, while Fox disclosed its average of 50.2 million viewers for the NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams.

Despite Super Bowl viewership dropping to the lowest mark in decades last season (96.4 million viewers) when the game was on CBS, the numbers seem poised to bounce back this year. Combined with its Winter Olympics coverage, NBC is calling next Sunday, Feb. 13 “Super Gold Sunday,” a once-in-a-lifetime day of sports programming from which the network anticipates generating $500 million in revenue.

Outside of the game action, it has been a busy week for the NFL. The league has generated both positive and negative publicity due to the retirement announcement by the aforementioned Brady after an illustrious, 22-year career in professional football, along with the class-action lawsuit filed by Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores against the NFL and three of its teams, and the Pro Bowl set to kick off this Sunday from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.

On Thursday afternoon, Darren Smith and Marty on San Diego’s XTRA 1360 spoke about this year’s growth in Super Bowl advertising revenue, and how television networks seem to be unwilling to take a stand against the NFL in order to promote reform.

“Our opinion yesterday about, ‘Hey, if you’re going to inspire real change in the NFL, you got to hit them in the pocketbook; you got to hit them at the bottom line. These television networks [have to] play an active role…’ Yeah, no network is turning down $7 million for a 30-second spot,” said Smith, who has been a host on San Diego sports talk radio since 2004.

“Not NBC, not CBS, not ABC, not Amazon, none of them. I’m not going to wait for the TV networks to take a moral stand on this one.”

According to the afternoon drive program, Super Bowl commercials have been ruined since they began being posted on YouTube days before the “Big Game.” By seeing commercials early, they say, there is less anticipation and excitement surrounding them during the actual game, and one less thing to talk about the next day if the game ends up being a blowout.

“That segment doesn’t exist anymore in sports talk radio,” said Smith. “‘Hey everybody, let’s talk about the big movers for the commercials.’ They’re all up on YouTube.”

“That used to be the 12:30 segment on Monday, especially when you have a blowout in the Super Bowl,” said Marty Caswell, program co-host. “You [could] go ahead, move on from it and talk about the commercials.”

Looking back on some of the commercials from Super Bowl LV, such as Michael B. Jordan for Amazon Alexa, Jason Alexander for Tide, and Shaggy for Cheetos, the radio hosts had trouble remembering them. While most of the commercials for this year’s Super Bowl LVI are yet to be released, Smith is pretty sure he knows where the rise in 30-second spot revenue, up $1.5 million from last year, is coming from.

“We’re right back; we’re getting $7 million per commercial now,” said Smith. “Probably [from] some stupid crypto company.”

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Zaslow No Longer With WQAM

An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

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WQAM midday host Jonathan Zaslow is no longer with WQAM in Miami, according to sources.

The radio station has removed his show from the website and references to him and his normal 10a-2p ET midday timeslot program have been scrubbed from the station website. An attempt to reach out to Zaslow for comment went unanswered.

Whether or not this has any effect on his involvement with the Miami Heat broadcasts is unknown as of now. He was tweeting during his show’s scheduled time, with this being his most recent one which also referenced the show which appeared to still be on the air at the time.

Zaslow had been with 790 the Ticket since 2004. He was transitioned from Audacy-owned 790 to sister station AM 560 Sports WQAM last October. During his tenure he has worked with a number of established local voices including Joy Taylor, Amber Wilson, Brett Romberg, and Brendan Tobin amongst others.

WQAM has gone thru a number of changes, including a rebranding effort to call the station “560 The Joe”. That ended last year with the station returning to the AM 560 Sports WQAM brand listeners were more familiar with. What they have planned next in Zaslow’s timeslot is unclear but local listeners will likely get some answers next week.

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Sports Radio News

Vanessa Richardson Named Houston Rockets Sideline Reporter, Paul Gallant to Host Solo on ESPN 97.5

Vanessa Richardson will be on the sidelines for the Houston Rockets and Paul Gallant will host solo show on ESPN 97.5.

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Vanessa and Gallant

Changes are taking place in Houston sports media. First, the Houston Rockets will have a new television sideline reporter this season, and she’s a familiar name to Houston sports fans.

Vanessa Richardson, the now former co-host of ESPN 97.5’s Vanessa and Gallant, revealed that she will be on the sidelines for the NBA franchise covering the team for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

She tweeted the news saying, “Elated to be the new Houston Rockets sideline reporter! I can’t wait to travel the country & share the stories of this dynamic team during 80+ games on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. I’ll continue to fill-in as a host/reporter for Astros broadcasts as well.”

Richardson’s co-host, Paul Gallant, tweeted that with Richardson leaving the show for the Rockets sideline gig, Vanessa and Gallant will become the Paul Gallant Show. The solo show led by Gallant begins Monday September 26th.

“We’re excited to have Paul host his own show”, said Todd Farquharson, General Manager of ESPN 97.5 & 92.5.  “He’s super creative, energetic, and likeable.  He’ll get the audience involved and have fun.”

Paul commented, “You know what I’ve always loved about sports talk radio?  That it’s interactive.  Whether through a phone call, text message, tweet or on Twitch, it’s the best place for sports fans to come together and celebrate…or vent.  And that’s what The Paul Gallant Show is going to be…Houston’s platform to talk about its teams. THE most interactive sports talk show in Houston.”

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Sports Radio News

Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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