The BSM Summit is coming up on February 26-27, and the two day conference presents a great opportunity for the sports radio industry to share, collaborate and even steal ideas from other minds. Who better to steal from than the talent themselves, the people who are implementing new ideas on a daily basis?
On-air hosts are naturally creative and engaging. It’s what makes them successful and worthy of learning from. Creativity is a big part of staying fresh and introducing new ideas to help one grow. Engaging people helps create additional listening, whether it’s to a radio show or a speaker at a conference. Whenever you’re learning, it’s helpful to have a creative, engaging teacher.
I spoke to Maggie Gray from WFAN, Chris Carlin of 98.7 ESPN New York, SiriusXM’s Adam Schein and Brandon Tierney from CBS Sports Radio about the BSM Summit and their abilities to share ideas and industry knowledge. Four successful sports media members, each with passion for the industry and a desire to see it grow.
Brandon Contes: You’ll be speaking in two weeks at the BSM Summit, a conference which brings together a large number of industry people, especially programming executives. How important do you think it is to have talent involved in helping advance that initiative, because let’s face it, you guys are engaging personalities, and when you speak people listen.
Maggie Gray: We all have the same goal. We want radio to thrive and we realize how much potential this industry still has to give especially from the on-air side. You feel the connection you have with the audience. Keeping that connection, finding new audiences and keeping radio relevant, keeping radio part of peoples’ everyday lives, no matter if you’re on the talent side, executive, agent – we all have the same goal, serve the audience and grow the audience.
This is what we do. We entertain people. We also get a charge out of doing things in front of a live audience because for the most part we’re in a studio looking at each other. It’s great to get in front of people in the industry to talk about the future of radio. Most of us are in this business we’re radio geeks, so we all have this love for radio and audio. Getting in a room with people who share that is great.
Chris Carlin: My constant thought is to get better and when you get that level of talent in one room it’s invaluable because we don’t get exposed enough to how others think about the industry, their shows and how they attack them. I’m a guy that wants to attack his weaknesses as a talk show host and get better every day. Stealing ideas from people is not the worst thing in the world [Laughs] and when you assemble these minds in this environment to exchange ideas, it’s going to give you an opportunity to get better.
Adam Schein: I think the entire experience is going to be amazing. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve seen clips from the previous Summits and every time I watched, I learned something. The healthy exchange of ideas, how people execute and prepare, what works in different markets in sports radio in 2020 to capture people’s attention. It’s a great opportunity.
I saw clips of Colin Cowherd and Jim Rome last year and I look forward to exchanging my ideas and visions of how I execute everyday on Schein on Sports and what goes into the show, how I prepare for it. And I look forward to listening to other people, to hear how they go about their business. I’ve had this circled on my calendar for awhile now.
Brandon Tierney: It’s a great way to exchange ideas, network, build our individual brands and champion what I believe is the most intimate, absolute best medium of them all, radio and audio content.
It’s great to see different talents with different styles from different networks on the same stage simultaneously. You get an interesting cross section and exchanging of ideas, a unique template if you will. It grows our business, and it’s advantageous to everybody, not just people who program stations, but those who are deeply entrenched and mid-career. The goal is to evolve and be proactive, and from my point of view, my goal is to be better tomorrow than I was today. When you get in a room like this, you increase your chances to do that.
BC: Creativity is essential for a talent to be successful. So too is having the opportunity to collaborate. That can have a great impact on building chemistry and a great show. How important is it for people to be around others to expand their thinking?
MG: I truly believe there are no stupid questions. One of my favorite things about the job are the brainstorming sessions before our show. We call it the spitball. I love that part. I love the collaboration of ideas because you just don’t know what’s going to hit. Someone can say a word or half of an idea and then it goes from there and turns into something great. I think the more collaboration you can get the better a show is going to be.
CC: You have to take swings. It’s funny, I’m driven by a fear of failure to begin with, but when it comes to being on-air, I’m not afraid to fail. You have to be willing to evolve and take chances. There have been plenty of times where I’ve done something on-air and it didn’t work. You can tell if something needs to be tweaked or if it’s never going to work. If you’re just doing a show and talking about sports, you have to find ways to separate yourself. You have to figure out how to do something different. I want to be the guy that gives you the aspect or idea of a story that you haven’t thought about yet. Different has to be good and so does taking chances.
AS: You always want your show to be fresh, and have creative ideas provided. You try to surround yourself with incredibly bright and creative people. I love talking about the product of radio. I always like discussing ideas of what works and what fits my personality and speaking with people at SiriusXM like Steve Cohen, Eric Spitz, Steve Torre, Bill Zimmerman and Jason Dixon who is amazing when it comes to feedback and different things to try. Positive reinforcement can also go a long way, ‘this works, keep doing it!’ Those are the kinds of things that resonate and I always enjoy talking about the product, I’m a junkie for that stuff.
BC: How do you see the role of a program director? Do you want them to serve as a coach and mentor or focus on business and what time to run a contest?
AS: You always want a program director who is the ultimate sounding board. Someone you can talk to about the show, about an interview, idea, someone you can talk about life with. Being a coach and mentor in addition to everything else. I’m lucky to have that on a lot of levels at SiriusXM. We have great people and great radio people and that’s vital to our success.
Eric Spitz years ago changed my life and shaped how I do a radio show with the POKE scale on how to judge every show. Passion, Opinion, Knowledge, Entertainment and you can’t lose sight of all four in terms of criteria for a daily show. And to me, entertainment’s at the top of the charts. Being able to tell a story, keeping people engaged, it’s all part of the deal and something I take pride in.
BT: The best program directors are equal parts professional manager or coach, but also psychologist. The best talents truly care about what we put out there, and what we attach our name to for public consumption. I don’t care who you are or how good you think you are, there’s vulnerability that comes with that. The presence of somebody who knows the business, but also knows what works and what doesn’t work, you need an honest assessment. It doesn’t help anybody to just keep saying ‘great show.’
Not every show is great, not every segment is great, not every interview is effective. Some things are poorly constructed and some things are grand slams. If something doesn’t sound right or is short of the talent’s potential, they need to call you out on that. And some PD’s are married to the company more than the talent and that’s understandable, but you want to know if something takes a sideways turn, that the PD still has your back.
BC: How helpful was having a program director that was already on-air in the same market, like Spike Eskin in Philly?
CC: Having worked with Spike for just a year, I love how he thinks and I trust his instincts. I’m getting acquainted with Ryan Hurley now at ESPN and I really like talking about show philosophies with him and listening to the way he thinks.
Spike fascinated me from the first time I met him because we have the same goals, but he thinks differently than I do and gives an invaluable perspective. Eric Spitz has been that way for me in my career too. I’m always open to people who think differently because I can potentially learn from them. Constantly getting different ideas is exciting.
BC: What’s one area of weakness in the sports radio industry that you think needs to be addressed?
MG: Finding new audiences. Think about the NFL or NBA, they’re never satisfied even though they have massive audiences. I think radio stations should be the same way. There’s always a new set of ears to go after and keeping that aggressive growth mindset helps all of us. Still be true to your core audience, but find that future audience, become part of their lives and be 360 about it. It’s so important for radio stations to be where their audience is. It’s not just radio and the person in the car, it’s about being part of their everyday lives, being available online and streaming to make sure they don’t have to go searching for you.
CC: I’m still trying to figure out where we’re going to fit in the future in the digital space. Smart speakers have been a major advance, but I want to know what others think about the slice of the pie that sports media and entertainment has moving into the future. As an industry we may have had 65% of that pie before, it’s gone down a little bit and how do we get that back? It’s difficult, but not impossible and I want to know what other people think about it. I heard 15-20 years ago radio is dying, we may have taken some hits, but it’s still around, it’s still popular and it still makes waves.
AS: I think there is a wonderful place for callers in sports radio and I know there are a lot of differing opinions on that. I’m a big believer in using callers wisely in sports talk radio. Going back to when sports radio was invented, WFAN, 1987, two-way sports talk. I think a lot of places have completely lost sight of that. There’s a way for me as a solo host to be passionate, opinionated, knowledgeable, entertaining, have my own show while implementing callers that make the show better, make me better, make for entertainment. Producers and call-screening is a big part of it. I know not everyone in the industry thinks the same way which is healthy, but I’m adamant that phone calls are a big part of sports talk radio.
You have to be able to attract great telephone calls, it’s a skill. If you do it right, it enhances the nature of a sports radio show.
BT: The challenge is always growing the medium in a forward direction. Major League Baseball’s obstacle is pace of play and appealing to a younger generation and they’ve worked on addressing that. In basketball, you see the evolution of the three-point shot as the sport grows. In golf, pace of play has also permeated the conversation.
We can’t look at radio and just say there are a few national networks doing well, there are a few elite local programs doing well, it has to be bigger than that. It needs to be bigger than just CBS, ESPN, FOX, or SiriusXM. It has to be bigger than just WFAN, WEEI, KNBR or The Ticket in Dallas. It needs a true vision and there can’t be complacency because it’s evolving quickly. You need smart people to lead it in the right direction, more importantly you need passionate people.
Adam Schein, Brandon Tierney, Chris Carlin and Maggie Gray will be appearing at the 2020 BSM Summit on February 26-27 in New York City. For tickets visit BSMSummit.com.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Beyond The Mask: Henrik Lundqvist Embraced 2nd Career in Sports Media
“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal.”
Plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, Henrik Lundqvist found himself beneath the bright lights once again, poised to put on a worthy performance. Just as he aimed to stop pucks from going in the net as the star goaltender of the New York Rangers for 15 seasons, Lundqvist sought to captivate viewers as half of a musical duo featuring former NHL forward Paul Bissonnette.
Their performance of “Good Riddance” by Green Day was in tribute to Rick Tocchet, a former NHL on TNT studio analyst who recently departed the network to serve as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.
Lundqvist serves as a studio analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NHL, breaking down players and teams throughout the broadcast and bringing his own unique style to the set. His pursuit of a post-playing career in sports media was no guarantee from the moment he retired in August 2021; in fact, he never intended to stop playing the game and competing for a Stanley Cup championship at that time.
During the 2019-20 season, Lundqvist had lost playing time to young goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, and by the year’s end, his deal was bought out by the team. In an effort to continue playing, Lundqvist signed a contract with the Washington Capitals – marking the first time in his NHL career that he would not step between the pipes for the Rangers.
Lundqvist never played a game for the team though, as it was discovered in a medical exam that he would need open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve while also having an aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. Less than two months after the successful five-hour operation, he was back on the ice rehabbing and attempting to make a full recovery – but a few months in, he began to feel unexpected chest pain. Following a medical checkup, Lundqvist was told he had inflammation around his heart. It was a significant setback that required him to step off the ice, take off his goaltender equipment and rest for several months.
After discussions with his family and friends, Lundqvist determined that the risk of taking the ice outweighed the rewards and officially stepped away from the game. Rather than conjuring hypothetical scenarios wherein he did not experience the misfortune and played for the Capitals, Lundqvist looked to the future amid the ongoing global pandemic and thought about how he could best enjoy his retirement.
“I was just mentally in a very good place,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a choice; I guess that makes it easier sometimes when the decision is made because you can’t go back-and-forth – ‘Should I?’ ‘Should I not?’ Yeah, I wanted to play but it was just not meant to be for me.”
Before any definitive resolution on his future endeavors was made though, the Rangers announced that the team would retire Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony during the 2021-22 season, making him just the 11th player bestowed that honor in franchise history. As a five-time NHL All-Star selection, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, and holder of numerous franchise records, Lundqvist had the accolades to merit this profound distinction.
Moreover, he was an important component in growing the game of hockey and contributing to the greater community, serving as the official spokesperson for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. He also was a two-time recipient of the organization’s prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, honoring the player “who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
Throughout the night, attendees regaled Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-rik!” and were treated to flashbacks of some of his memorable career moments. The night was of monumental importance for Lundqvist, during which he expressed his gratitude to the Rangers’ organization, former teammates and fans. Then, Lundqvist — referred to as “The King” — promptly took his place among team legends beneath the concave ceiling of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
“When I look back at my career, I know, to me, it was all about preparation; how I practiced and how I prepared for each game at practice,” Lundqvist said. “There’s no regrets, and I hope people, when they think about how I played, [know] that it was 100% heart and commitment to the game.”
Before this ceremony though, Lundqvist and Rangers owner James Dolan had held several meetings with one another. The purpose of these conversations was to determine the best way for Lundqvist to remain involved with the team, its fans, and the community. In the end, he was named as a lead studio analyst on MSG Networks’ broadcasts of New York Rangers hockey before the start of the 2021-22 season: the start of his foray in sports media.
This past summer, Lundqvist negotiated a new deal with Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment in which he maintained his in-studio responsibilities while increasing involvement in other areas of its sports and entertainment ventures. In this new role, Lundqvist supports the business operations for both companies, assisting in digital content development, alumni relations, and partner and sponsor activities.
When Lundqvist is not in the studio or the office, he can often be found at Madison Square Garden taking in New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, or one of the arena’s renowned musical performances. Usually, when he is in attendance, he is shown on the arena’s center-hung video board as an “NYC Celebrity” and receives a thunderous ovation from the crowd.
“The network is just part of it, but it feels great to come there,” Lundqvist said of Madison Square Garden. “Every time I go there – to see the people that I’ve known for so long – but also I love that place; I love The Garden. I think the energy [and] the variety of things that happen there is something I really appreciate. It feels really good to be a part of that.”
Sitting alongside former teammate and studio analyst Steve Valiqutte and sportscaster John Giannone, Lundqvist appears in the MSG Networks studios, located across the street from the arena, for select New York Rangers games. From the onset, he brought his allure and expertise to the set and appealed to viewers – so much so that national networks quickly began to take notice.
“I enjoy watching hockey [and] talking hockey, but the main thing to me is the team; the people that you work with,” Lundqvist said. “The guys on the panel [and the] crew behind. I really enjoy that part of it and having a lot of fun off-camera.”
One month later, Lundqvist was on his first national broadcast for the NHL on TNT where he and Bissonnette famously performed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica that went viral on social media. It had been known that Lundqvist was a musician, famously performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in his Rangers uniform to celebrate the end of the 2012-13 NHL lockout.
In fact, during his retirement ceremony, the Rangers gifted him with a custom-made guitar painted by David Gunnarsson, the same artist who used to paint Lundqvist’s goalie masks.
Aside from occasional music performances, Lundqvist brings an esoteric base of knowledge to the NHL on TNT panel as its only goaltender. Whether it be through player breakdowns, interviews, or dialogue with other analysts, Lundqvist has a perspective to which few professional hockey players can relate. There are various goaltenders among local studio panels surrounding live hockey game broadcasts, and Lundqvist is in a unique situation with MSG Networks in that he and Valiquette are both former goaltenders. Yet on Turner Sports’ national coverage, he is the only voice speaking to this different part of the game.
“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal,” Lundqvist explained. “Yes, you need to stop the puck, but a huge part of being a goalie is analyzing what’s going on. We can never really dictate the play so you need to analyze what’s happening right in front of you.”
In broadcasting at both the local and national level, Lundqvist is cognizant of the differences in each network’s studio programs. Lundqvist says appearing on the MSG Networks studio panel is more about being direct with the viewer, whereas the NHL on TNT views its panel as being conversational in nature. With Turner Sports, Lundqvist also asks his colleagues about the different teams around the league since he is most familiar with the Rangers both as a former player and studio analyst.
“I’m closer to the Rangers; I see more of what’s going on,” Lundqvist stated. “When you work [national] games, maybe you focus in on teams on the West Coast or [part] of the league you don’t see as often. You try to talk to the other guys on the panel and the crew and figure out things that are interesting about those teams.”
Hockey is a team sport, and Lundqvist felt grateful to play with his teammates and face his competitors over the years. Now as an analyst though, it is his job to analyze their games and critique them when necessary; however, he does not try to be excessively critical.
Lundqvist knows the trials and tribulations associated with the sport and can relate to scenarios many players face on a nightly basis. Therefore, he thinks about his own experience before giving an opinion, especially a critique, instantiating it with comprehensible, recondite knowledge and/or by recounting a similar situation.
“I’d much rather give them positive feedback obviously because I know it is a tough game,” Lundqvist said, “and sometimes it might look like an easy mistake, but if you can give the viewer a better explanation of why he did that, they might have a different view of that mistake.”
Now metaphorically being beyond the goalie mask, Lundqvist’s vision of the game has evidently shifted. He discerns just how intense the schedule is and the rapid pace of the game, axioms he was aware of while playing but inherently avoided thinking about. He has implemented his refined viewpoint of the game accordingly into his analysis, simultaneously utilizing the mindset and savvy he cultivated on the ice. It is, quite simply, a balancing act.
“I think people can be pretty quick to jump on guys and critique them,” Lundqvist said. “That’s where maybe you take an extra look and try to understand why it happened and give those reasons. I think that’s where it helps if you played the game [for] a long time and just love the game [because] you have a pretty good understanding of why guys react a certain way.”
The challenge tacitly embedded in the jobs of most studio analysts – Lundqvist’s included – is in presenting the information to the audience in a manner through which it learns without being confused. It is a delicate craft that takes time and genuine understanding to master, especially related to promulgating hockey analytics as Valiquette does on MSG Networks and within his company, Clear Sight Analytics.
“There’s a lot of educated viewers out there, but there’s also a lot of people that maybe don’t watch as much hockey,” Lundqvist said, “so you want to find that middle ground where you kind of educate both sides.”
By broadcasting both locally and nationally in addition to working in a specially-designed business operations role, Lundqvist is staying around the rink in his retirement while facilitating the growth of hockey. Despite the profusion of young talent, dynamic action and jaw-dropping plays, viewership of the sport on ESPN and TNT’s linear channels has dropped 22% from last season, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.
For Lundqvist though, he does not feel much has changed from playing regarding his responsibility to advance the reach and appeal of the sport. He played professionally for 20 years, beginning his career in his home country of Sweden, primarily in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In the 2004-05 season, his final campaign before arriving in New York City, Lundqvist had won the award for most valuable player. Furthermore, he was recognized as the best goalie and best player, leading Frölunda HC to its second Elitserien championship in three seasons.
His NHL debut came five years after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers but unlike many rookies over the years, he came polished and prepared to embrace the lights of Broadway. Following an injury to starting goaltender Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was inserted into the starting lineup and, from that moment on, virtually never came out.
By the end of his first year, he had been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goaltender. Additionally, he remains the only goaltender to begin his NHL career with seven consecutive 30-plus win seasons.
“I think the league is doing a great job of growing the game,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to the product and right now, it’s a great product. I feel really good about, the best way I can, to promote the game [by] talking about it, but… it feels like I’ve been doing that for 20 years.”
One means through which Lundqvist attempts to grow the game is within the studio demos he performs with the NHL on TNT, displaying different facets of the game in a technical manner. The show also embraces the characteristics of their analysts and implements them in lighthearted segments, such as zamboni races, putting competitions, Swedish lessons and, of course, musical performances.
“I’m huge on mindset and the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “I love to talk about that type of stuff and give the viewer a better understanding of what goes through their heads. In terms of personality, I don’t know if I can say [that] I’m a serious guy because I love to have fun and laugh and do fun things.”
Lundqvist thoroughly enjoys what he is doing both locally and nationally, and he ensures he surrounds himself with people he wants to be around. There are plenty of other broadcast opportunities for former hockey players, such as moving into the booth as a color commentator or between the benches as a rinkside reporter. At this moment though, he is more focused on being immersed in his current roles, performing them to the best of his ability while ensuring he allocates time to spend with friends and family.
“I see myself more as an analyst in the studio more than traveling around and being in the rink,” he said. “I think that’s another thing with the schedule; it works really well with my schedule to have one or two commitments with the networks, but then I have other things going on in my life that I commit to.”
Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between playing professional hockey and covering the sport from the studio in terms of preparation and synergy. Yet the end result is not as clearly defined since “winning” in television is quantifiably defined as generating ratings and revenue. Undoubtedly, Lundqvist is focused on doing what he can to bolster hockey’s popularity; however, he also wants to enjoy this new phase of his career being around the game he loves.
“In sports, you win or you lose,” Lundqvist explained. “With TV, you want to be yourself [and] you want to get your point out – but at the same time, if you do it at the same time you’re having a good time, I feel like that’s good TV.”
Once their careers conclude, many athletes think about pursuing a post-playing career and oftentimes end up taking on a role in sports broadcasting. On MSG Networks alone, there are plenty of former players who take part in studio coverage on live game broadcasts, such as Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils, and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders. At the national level, Turner Sports employs Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Wayne Gretzky for its studio broadcasts, while ESPN’s top studio crew includes Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.
All of these former professional hockey players had an obligation to regularly speak with media members, answering questions about games and the season at large. Lundqvist maintained a professional relationship with journalists and beat reporters, and he most enjoyed taking questions when the team was doing well. Regardless of what the end result of a game was though, he had a responsibility to divulge his thoughts and, in turn, be subject to criticism and/or negative feedback.
His stellar career and persona all came from emanating a passion for the game – and it continues to manifest itself beyond the television screen. Listening to those passionate about the game discuss it usually engenders euphony and lucidity to viewers, analogous to the sound of the puck hitting the pads or entering the glove. It is a timbre Lundqvist created 27,076 times throughout his NHL career (regular season and playoffs) in preventing goals, and one he now aims to explain en masse.
“The reason why I kept going to the rink and put all the hours in was because I really enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “If you decide to go into media or whatever it might be, I think the bottom line is [that] you have to enjoy it and make sure you have good people around you.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Should the NBA Nationalize Local TV Rights Like MLS?
The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.
Diamond Sports has been anything but a diamond in the sports world. As subscribers leave cable and satellite for streaming services, companies are dropping RSNs nationwide because they are too expensive to carry. This has caused an impending bankruptcy for the company, which owns the local rights to dozens of sports teams nationwide. It is also putting the NBA, NHL, and MLB at major financial risk.
In the short term, it is known that teams will still broadcast on their RSNs even if they aren’t getting the paychecks they were promised in previous rights deals. This will affect teams’ ability to pay players and could even create an unfair advantage among the haves of the sports world like the Yankees and Lakers and the have-nots. The NFL doesn’t face the same problems that the other leagues are facing because its rights have been nationalized.
With the NFL’s continued television dominance, college conferences also bundling up games together for more money, and the MLS guaranteeing themselves television revenue after packaging local and national rights together, could we see the other leagues follow suit? It is an option that is much easier said than done but it seems like we are moving closer to it becoming reality.
The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.
The biggest problem the NBA and other leagues would face are that the local rights to all of its teams don’t expire at the same time. If the league were to sign a deal that included giving all local rights to a streamer, the amount which the league was getting paid would be very unique year after year. It would be crazy for a streamer to pay a huge chunk of money to the NBA all at once if the number of teams they have local rights to changes every year.
It would also be insane to pay an astronomical amount if the streamer is only getting the local rights to small-market teams like the Cavs and the Pistons. A major market team like the Lakers doesn’t renew their local rights until 2032. We’re still in 2023. How does that affect the league’s operating costs?
The NBA would also have to figure out whether teams whose rights don’t expire yet deserve to be included in the pot of money garnered from selling local rights to a streamer. Whether they are or they aren’t, does it put each team at different competitive advantages and/or disadvantages when trying to acquire free agents or front-office personnel?
One of the most interesting puzzles to figure out is what influence a league owner like Washington’s Ted Leonsis has in this potential measure when all is said and done. Leonsis just acquired complete control of the regional sports network — currently named NBC Sports Washington — that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games for millions of dollars, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.
What does Leonsis do with his network if his team’s games can no longer air there? Can his team opt out of participating in a potential league offering? Or if the games continue to air on his network but are simulcasted locally on the streamer that wins local rights on a national scale, does the streamer have the ability to pay less money for rights?
If so, does that make the deal as lucrative for the NBA? And what does that mean for retransmission fees that cable companies like Comcast pay to Leonsis and other RSNs they’re still carrying?
The league will face a similar problem with the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks and other franchises that either wholly own or partially own a part of the RSNs where they broadcast their games.
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions which is why they are written here in this column. Unfortunately for the leagues, they don’t have the answers either. But if the NBA figures out a way to nationalize their product even more and make streaming games more appealing by ending local blackouts, it’ll benefit the game more than it hurts the game.
NBA, NHL, and MLB games are still some of the highest-rated programs locally in many markets when you look at how they rate vs. other cable and broadcast offerings. But at this point, the ability to charge everyone for a program that only ten percent of subscribers are watching is a losing business proponent.
The leagues should start from scratch and sell a mass package of games for maximum profit. It gives fans a more centralized location to watch their favorite teams and puts the leagues on a much more steady path than where they could be headed sooner rather than later.
Diamond in the rough to sparkling jewel of light? Only time will tell.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?
“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”
Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on!
We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.
“I HAVE A JOB.”
With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon.
“I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”
You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far.
Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service, AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker.
“I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”
Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard.
“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”
In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.
“I HAVE COMPETITION!”
That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at email@example.com or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.