Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sports Media Report - July 9th Update

While many radio stations continue to anticipate the impact of the PPM's on the ratings, pro sports teams continue to embrace the concept as well. Now the Super Bowl champion New York Giants have contracted with Arbitron to use PPM's to compile research about the listening audience for game broadcasts. Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies have already invested in this form of team research. With more and more teams taking control of their radio packages, and in particular the broadcast advertising, I can't help but think there is more to it than the research showing when fans tend to tune in and tune out of broadcasts. Team officials receiving custom PPM reports will probably be able to provide potential broadcast advertisers with more specific targeting than the radio stations can or will. What I'm getting at is that some pro (and some major college) sports teams could actually be able to offer advertisers more bang for their buck than the station itself.

Having been on both sides of the fence during my career (selling and buying air time along with print and internet), I can easily see how this new technology which radio is embracing could actually take away some ad revenue from some stations. I'll use a baseball and a football example.Over the years, I have heard several baseball broadcasts which have one or more sponsors specific to pitching changes. But as a baseball fan, I realize that a spot during a pitching change in the 5th inning of a one-sided game won't have the same impact as running it while the closer comes in during the 8th or 9th inning with runners in scoring position. But now a MLB team selling its own time and producing its own broadcasts could sell spots for "pitching changes after the 7th inning". True, if the originating station carries the rights, so could they. But the team could also combine this buy with the rolling billboards behind home plate, stadium ads, program ads, promotional giveaways, and all of the other weapons a team now has to offer.

Carry that over to football, and the Giants could (for example) offer stadium advertising, game day program space, web site banners, and spots during Giants time outs during the 2nd half of their games, all for one price. That is most likely less than what the originating radio station could offer on its own for an advertiser specifically looking to reach Giants fans moreso than the demographics.

This technology, along with what I call "stadium technology" and team web sites and marketing promotions, is already allowing some teams to offer a lot to major advertisers. It will be interesting to see if the stations drop the ball come the next broadcast rights negotiation period.

Meanwhile, in addition to 3-person broadcast teams and an increasing amount of sideline reporters all over sports telecasts, NBC-TV is about to overcrowd the studio for its upcoming Sunday Night NFL. While its reuniting of Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann is welcome by many sports fans, this really means that Bob Costas and his role will allow for a lot of duplication. Personally, I enjoy all three of these reporters, but there is only so much air time available from the studio for these telecasts. Hopefully this can be worked out so that each has their air time and we can enjoy everyone.

As expected, Showtime's "Inside the NFL" will have a CBS Sports flavor when it debuts on its new home in a few weeks. James Brown, Phil Simms and Cris Collinsworth will now host, with Brown and Simms continuing their CBS-TV roles each weekend.

Speaking of technology and sports broadcasting, the trend of expanding sports coverage beyond TV and radio continues with the announcement from Turner Broadcasting and the NBA earlier this week. Congrats to Bryan Perez, named as Senior V.P. and General Manager of NBA Digital. His responsibilities will include NBA-TV,, and the WNBA and Development League, and include operations, programming, and marketing.

While the SEC is still reportedly trying to form its own TV network, the conference's radio exposure increased with the announcement that all 12 SEC teams will have their broadcasts carried on XM starting this season. This is an increase from the 7 teams XM carried last year, adding Alabama, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt. Along with the championship football game, XM will also carry the majority of men's basetball games, along with some women's hoops and a handful of SEC baseball games next spring. Again, while radio stations worry about people not taking to HD Radio, XM swoops up another delight for the college football fans.

NEW JERSEY - WCTC 1450 AM will continue to air Rutgers sports this fall even with the station's change this week from talk to "Good Time Oldies".

OKLAHOMA CITY - Now that the NBA team that played in Seattle is officially relocating to Oklahoma City, the broadcasting rights field is open and underway even before the team is re-named. (Legally, the Supersonics name and likeness remains in Seattle in hopes of landing a relocation or expansion franchise in a couple of years.) Word is that Matt Pinto, the radio voice of the team in Seattle this past season, will make the move along with the team. TV voice Kevin Calabro, after more than 20 seasons calling the action, is not expected to follow and will likely remain in Seattle. The 46 year-old Pinto was the voice of the Charlotte Hornets for 8 seasons, along with stins doing the Dallas Mavericks and L.A. Clippers. He worked the radio broadcasts solo in Seattle, but it's too early to tell if that will change in Oklahoma City. KTOK 1000 carried the New Orleans Hornets broadcasts 2 seasons ago when the team was forced to play most of its home games in OK City following Hurricane Katrina, and is believed to be a front-runner for the radio rights.

HOUSTON - The Astros are now expected to delay negotiations for their radio rights into August, after the exclusive negotiations period with KTRH 740 runs out at the end of July. Look for KGOW 1560 AM and KFNC 97.5 FM to enter the bidding war, unless KTRH and Clear Channel up the ante. KGOW is approaching its one year anniversary as another of Houston's sports radio stations.

ATLANTA - It looks like WCNN 680 The Fan's afternoon show with John Kincade and Buck Belue ("Buck & Kincade Show") will stay put in the 3 - 7 PM spot for at least 2 more years. Kincade reportedly was considering returning to his native Philadelphia and WIP, but is expected to sign again with The Fan by the end of this week.

SEATTLE - Moving past the loss of the NBA Sonics, the Mariners' radio picture for next year is still in the works. The Seattle Times reports that a team official said a final decision is still a few weeks away after rumors that KIRO had secured the rights away from KOMO were published.

SAN ANTONIO - This week it's not "Remember The Alamo". It is to remember Dan Cook who passed away last week at the age of 81 after a long illness. Cook was a sportscaster at KENS-TV from 1956 to 2000, in addition to being an award winning columnist for the San Antonio Express-News. He is credited with being the first to use the saying "The opera ain't over till the fat lady sings" in 1978. (That phrase is often believed to have been debuted by then Washington Bullets coach Dick Motta but it started with Cook.) He will be missed.

SOUTH BEND - Maybe you can come home again. Notre Dame broadcasts will air locally on WSBT 960 AM this season, starting with the San Diego State game on September 6th. WSBT was the first radio station ever to broadcast Notre Dame football back in 1922 and has done so for more seasons than any other local station. The station signed a 6 year agreement which also will include men's basketball and hockey broadcasts, along with coaches shows and other related programming including a football post-game call-in show. Sunny 101.4 FM will also broadcast football. WSBT will also carry basketball, while hockey games will air on Cat Country 99.9 FM. Sunny and Cat Country will also be called upon during basketball season to carry Indiana University broadcasts when they conflict with Notre Dame games. The football broadcasts will be the national feed with Don Criqui and Allen Pinkett, while Jack Nolan and LaPhonso Ellis will call the men's hoops.

LOUISVILLE - The University of Louisville's coaches shows will have new but prominent local hosts starting this season. WHAS Radio and TV's Paul Rogers will host "Kickoff With Coach K" with footbal coach Steve Kragthorpe in addition to his play-by-play duties. Kyle Draper, recently named WHAS Sports Director, will host "Cards Big East Report" which airs monthly. WHAS Radio's afternoon drive talk show host Terry Meiners will now be the lone host of "Courtside with Rick Pitino" during basketball season. Meiners has been broadcasting in the region for more than 30 years, having begun his career at WKQQ-FM Lexington as a rock jock while Denny Crum was coaching at Louisville and Joe B. Hall at U. of Kentucky.

BOISE - Congrats to Bob Behler, signed last week to a 2 year deal to handle play-by-play for both football and basketball for Boise State broadcasts on KIDO 580.

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