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How Can An Alternate Broadcast Top the Main Broadcast?

I was curious as to what would have to happen, what parameters would have to be met, for one of these alternate broadcasts to grab higher ratings than the main telecast.

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We are in the world of the alternate broadcasts. It came suddenly, without warning, and we slowly accepted it for special events, like college football national championships and the Final Four. Then, the damn thing exploded to Monday Night Football, but it was Peyton Manning so we relented. Now, the alternate broadcast is near an invasive species.

I found myself watching one of them this past weekend when I tuned in for the Pat McAffee-Cast, McAffeeCast, PatCast, whatever it ends up being titled. It was pretty early on that I figured this wasn’t my cup of tea. But also neither was North Carolina State-Clemson. I was curious as to what would have to happen, what parameters would have to be met, for one of these alternate broadcasts to grab higher ratings than the main telecast.

The reality is, this will be a difficult ask. For one, the main telecast is comfort. No matter who is calling the game, seeing the feed interrupted by picture-in-picture is what people gravitate to. Also, hearing commentary just pertaining to the game itself tends to also be a connective force that some folks just don’t want to stray from. But let’s try.

First thing we need, major distribution. No disrespect to ESPN2, but that ain’t ESPN or ABC. If we want this thing to work, a main feed would have to go on one heavily-sought after and viewed channel and the other can host our alternate feed. While we are on it, this is pie-in-the-sky talk, so FOX we are going to need you to step away from the table. Same with Amazon and ESPN. Disney can do this. They have to.

Next, let’s remove some of the barriers for people. The alternate broadcast should have a traditional play-by-play, analyst setup with ancillary around it. The twist, bringing in a big enough name to do the play-by-play that could get enough curious onlookers to stay for a while or, my favorite, a cross-over spectacular. I think this is where it could get fun. Remember, we have to keep game credibility so die-hards will stay, but we need a voice that’s enough of one to have people perk up. For one-night only, Gus Johnson arrives in the booth.

For the analyst, I think it’s simple: Pat McAfee. One, it keeps him off another alternate broadcast that tries to pop-up. Two, whatever that guy does, draws ears, eyes and impressions. People tune it like and dislike him and as long as they are tuning in, we are golden. By the way, the analyst will be good but we have more surprises in store that will not have him in the top five of discussion points after our new alternate edition.

We have to give stuff away. Period. Peyton Manning drew 1.63 million viewers to Monday Night Football this week, compared to the actual game’s 10.863 million viewers. We need gimmicks. Credit to the aforementioned McAfee, he knows this too and during the first PatCast was giving items away. We have to go big. And we have to go all game. I am talking about having a keyword to text every sixty seconds affair. Sports betting companies are great for the free credits, for those not in those states, we got gear, tickets to games, cash, etc and multiple winners each minute. I’m not here to get the prizes, I am here to tell you how to beat the main broadcast. If you want to break the habits of detractors and you want them flipping over, you have to make it worth their time.

The final step is guests. Clearly the greatest booth in the world is subjective to you and me and no matter how strong the game coverage will be, we will need a tease of rotating guests and I am suggesting we sign up real movers, real shakers. Names that draw interest from across platforms and walks of life that for one full quarter each, will jibber-jabber about the game and ONLY THE GAME (like I could promise that). Want to hear who I call?

The first quarter will take care of itself mostly for people wanting the game and the rubberneckers wanting to see what this chaos is all about. Nothing too heavy needed to open the show, but we need a strong hit. Right out of the gate I am leading with Barack Obama. It’s an easy sell. No one is followed more on Twitter than he and do you not think people would tune in to see what this young fella is doing calling a game for more than a segment?

The second quarter is where you get a lot more gamblers running in to check in on their first half numbers, the game is still very much in doubt but we need an even stronger pick. Someone that is an entertainer, maybe the most electrifying one: The Rock. On all social he is active. On all social he is followed by the masses. And he is EVERYWHERE. Plus, a sporting background doesn’t hurt.

The third quarter is the malaise quarter. It’s not the most important one for fans by any stretch and people tend to miss a chunk of the beginning of it just because we all forget how long a halftime actually is. It’s probably the most important one for the broadcast. Enter Will Smith. Look, you know exactly the reason. There has been no bigger culturally discussed story this year than the one involving him at the Oscars. Embrace it.

The fourth quarter is where I schedule my cleanup hitter. This one is tricky. The game can be well decided by now or tight, who knows? I have to be prepared with a guest that can bring eyes in no matter the situation. His name is Donald Trump. You say whatever you want about the man, people care. He has no problem talking about nay subject, ever. Just do any searching of his name ever.

Sound excessive? Yeah. Would this work? It’s my best shot. Because honestly, the alternate broadcasts aren’t there for the die-hard fans, its for casual folks for a particular game. That’s why the PatCast for the North Carolina State-Clemson game was so interesting. 251,000 people tuned into that. Is that a massive number? Not really, but for a college football game that did just under half of what Monday Night Football did, it’s fascinating. McAfee, the Mannings, Dude Perfect, they all are stunt-casting the game and the game will always win, the game is always king. But could we see a network try a full-throttle attempt at making those numbers bigger than the main feed? I think one day, we will.

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BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

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Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

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