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It’s Time For TV To Evolve On Storms, Gambling

“If a programming executive truly believes that having Al Roker nearly knocked over leads to higher ratings and better ad sales, I would need to see the data firsthand.”

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I hope anyone who is reading this is safe from Hurricane Ida or its remnants.  After days of watching dear friends and colleagues struggling in New Orleans, there were floods to contend within Northern New Jersey from the massive rain minus the wicked wind.

If you are currently struggling with this, bookmark this column and return when you are dry, air-conditioned, and reminiscing about this horrific experience.

We do discuss media here, so the premise is simple: STOP putting meteorologists and reporters in harm’s way to cover a dangerous weather event.  It is pointless. People who are watching want to see the storm. But with HD cameras the poor sap standing in the midst pelted with rain, snow, or whatever debris is not needed to properly detail a storm’s ferrocenes.

Explaining why this is unsafe is like trying to explain why a seat belt is useful, or a helmet might be good to wear in a football game.

These poor saps are standing there do not make me want to see anything.  It makes me reach for my iPhone and see the weather app.  Local news and even national news puts these people in the eye of a storm 

Does Al Roker need this in his life?

Roker should have enough clout to refuse this assignment. 

By the way, I reached out to three different reporters/meteorologists who all refused to comment for fear of their jobs.  Still, one reporter offered this unattributed comment.

“Many reporters don’t mind this,” one source noted. “They want to be in the center of the action. The pressure local news stations are under to produce ratings has never been greater, and this is a big enough story.”

This really does not need to be a big challenge.  Set up stationary cameras, work them remotely.  If the camera is loosened by the velocity of the wind, show that. 

Drones would be great to use in this circumstance. The technology exists to show satellite radar from space, and some reporter who went to journalism school now has to try and stand up straight while hurling winds are coming at them. 

“This is how it’s always been done,” the source added. “They wouldn’t stop now.”

That line of reasoning isn’t good enough.  Just doing things because “that’s how it’s always been done” always shows more short-sightedness than insight.

This week, CBS announced that they will not include gambling information on its broadcast. Even though it is legal in more than two dozen states, it will not be a part of the play-by-play from any CBS announcer.

Why?  Because that is how it has always been done. It makes no more sense to not talk about gambling in 2021 than it does to have a weather person standing in 100+ MPH winds.

One colleague of mine who asked not to be identified but works on NFL telecasts suggested one theory that may play into this one.

“FOX Bet is going to make Rupert Murdoch a fortune,” the source said. “If Viacom had done that deal, CBS announcers would be discussing gambling during NFL games.”

One person’s theory does not make it true, but it still doesn’t make sense for CBS to not evolve with the times and greenlight its broadcasts to talk about something many of their viewers are engaging in.

Still, gambling is not comparable to human safety. Every time we have a weather element that involves wind, the smart money is that a TV network is sending someone into the storm.

If a programming executive truly believes that having Al Roker nearly knocked over leads to higher ratings and better ad sales, I would need to see the data firsthand. I will not accept the reward outweighs the risk.

During the rainstorm Wednesday night, my kids were getting all of their updates from group texts and TikTok. One rumor about the Turtle Back Zoo in Northern New Jersey turned out to teach my children that everything on TikTok is not accurate.

TikTok reported that animals had gotten loose amidst the flooding.  Penguins, tigers, and monkeys were roaming West Orange, New Jersey.

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The next morning, the Zoo put out a statement that the animals were never in danger.

The lesson is that reliable sources of information in a storm are not TikTok, Snapchat, or even Twitter.  The focus should be on the information at hand.  That’s enough to carry an audience.  Reporters in the storm do not add to the coverage.

Technology allows for imagination and creativity. Next time (unfortunately there will always be a next time) do better and keep reporters OUT of harm’s way.  It is that simple.

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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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