Blue Wire Focuses On Stories Without Live Sports
“Jones says he is okay with his shows taking the time they need to create something that resonates better with listeners right now.”
Podcasting network Blue Wire had a breakthrough year in 2019. The network saw its month-over-month listenership increase by 63% last year. Now, the company may be poised for another breakthrough as it adapts to life without games to comment on.
Blue Wire, a network of locally focused sports podcasts, attracted a $1.2 million seed investment last month. Rather than panic after almost immediately watching the format take a 10% hit in listenership, CEO Kevin Jones is having his hosts focus on telling stories instead of recapping games.
“The pause in sports has given us a stronger belief in narrative podcasting,” he told Pat Evans of Front Office Sports.
The Chase Down, Blue Wire’s Cleveland Cavaliers podcast, has started a seven-part series looking back at the franchise’s 2016 world championship. Jones says he is okay with his shows taking the time they need to create something that resonates better with listeners right now.
“Our time, energy, and resources are looking at narrative topics and companies that do those well, like Gimlet. We think consumption habits are changing, and we want to create binge-able content that listeners can unwrap like a Christmas present.”
Dan Le Batard: HBO Max ‘Going to Lose a Good Many People’ With Rebrand
“It doesn’t just transfer over when you go to HBO Max, it says this isn’t working anymore. This is closed forever. You’ve got to go somewhere else. Your Internet is not going to connect here.”
If you consume HBO content exclusively through the OTT platform HBO Max, you got a bit of a surprise this week. While the company had been preparing users that HBO Max and Discovery+ were going to be merged into an app simple called Max, users were shocked to find out that the existing apps weren’t simply going to become Max. Instead, users had to go download a new app entirely.
Dan Le Batard wonders if that might spell doom for the rollout of the new service.
“What they’ve changed, Amin, is you have to go to a different place,” he told colleague Amin Elhassan on his Wednesday show. “It doesn’t just transfer over when you go to HBO Max, it says this isn’t working anymore. This is closed forever. You’ve got to go somewhere else. Your Internet is not going to connect here.”
While HBO Max’s sports content was minimal, Warner Bros. Discovery has bigger plans for Max. In addition to US Soccer, it is expected that the new app will be the exclusive home for some NBA matchups if the league’s deal with TNT is renewed.
That is a worry for the future though. This weekend, HBO will air the finale of Succession. Le Batard wonders how many people are going to miss it entirely due to confusion.
“You have to download another app. And I do believe they’re going to lose a good many people who just simply don’t know how to do this of a certain age. They’re not going to be able to get over there, get their password and figure this part out without the help of the kids.”
Certainly how many of those users disappear forever is of interest to the NBA and NHL, but both leagues have good relationships with Warner Bros. Discovery. In the case of the NBA, the relationship with TNT goes back decades. A clumsy rollout of a new app is not ideal, but it isn’t likely to cost WBD Sports in upcoming negotiations.
Cari Champion: Amazon Still ‘Figuring Out the Way of the World’ in TV
“I think they kind of give you the keys to the castle and say go ahead and decorate it the way you want. I love that.”
Cari Champion hosts The Cari Champion Show every Monday-Friday from noon-2 PM ET on Amazon Prime Video. With her new show, the former host of First Take gets the chance to be creative and do what she wants to, which is to have an honest conversation with a guest.
“I love the show,” she said on Adam Schein’s Rise And Schein Podcast this week. “I think they kind of give you the keys to the castle and say go ahead and decorate it the way you want. I love that. I get two hours a day, Monday-Friday to talk to so many different people, to cover so many different topics.
“At Amazon Prime Video, they are still figuring out the way of the world in terms of how they want to do live television, there’s just a great opportunity to explore and with traditional linear television, many times you don’t get that opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t work.”
She told Schein that she doesn’t think the kind of conversations she and her guests have would work for every outlet.
“I think the idea of being able to have an honest conversation is exciting, but it’s also scary for a lot of entities because they don’t know what that all entails. While we are building, I think this is the time to do it so we can see what works…It’s really interesting all of the different outlets and the different shows that we have that cover everything. I bring on our traditional faces, but this is an opportunity for them to explain as opposed to having 45 seconds to respond.”
When Champion isn’t hosting the show, she also has her podcast, Naked with Cari Champion. When she does that show, it gives her the chance to be even more honest.
“I just do it in a way I hope everyone knows on the outside looking in that it’s not gravy. No one is posting on Instagram their worst day. Sometimes, the power of social media and podcasting can be great because you remove the pretense of the camera and feeling like you have to go to commercial break and you’ve got to get in, got to get out.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Pat McAfee Calls Roger Goodell ‘Bush League’ Over Touchback Proposal
“This is a bullshit commissioner move.”
The NFL has adopted the NCAA rules for touchbacks and fair catches on kickoffs, and former NFL special teams legend Pat McAfee isn’t a fan in the slightest of the changes.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell lobbied team owners this week to vote again on the rule changes, which would bring the ball on any fair catch or touchback on kicking plays out to the 25 yard line.
On his show Tuesday, McAfee called the efforts by Goodell “bush league.”
“Hey Rog, come on. You’re my commissioner. You’re our commissioner,” he said Tuesday on his YouTube show. “This is a bullshit commissioner move.”
Pat pointed out that for a good majority of the time, the new rule won’t have much of a bearing on games, as most kickoffs nowadays result in a touchback. But McAfee added that there’s a good chance this is going to come back to bite the league a little bit because it eliminates an element of strategy in the game.
“But at some game where it’s gonna be windy and cold, and games are gonna matter, this is gonna happen,” he said. “And everybody watching is gonna go, ‘This is the most bullshit thing I’ve ever seen in a professional football game.'”
Part of the rationale of the decision to make the rule change is to help prevent any future litigation from former players against the NFL for long-term effects of head injuries. McAfee said it was evident that was the main reason.
“It’s all just covering your ass for future problems,” he said. “I would like to see these stats that they keep saying are so prevalent and endearing to saving lives and brains that the kickoff and the punt are the only two that it happens.”
“We can’t just make the game so f–king fake and bullshit that it kind of disrepects the league as a whole,” McAfee added. “It’s always like a protect the shield thing.”
Pat went on to say that his success as a punter and kicker has contributed to the evolution of special teams play in the NFL. He really doesn’t like the fact that the changes ultimately makes special teams less valuable to the game.
“It’s a real f–king play, though,” he said. “And there’s real strategy and there’s real things to be gained from that.”
“You’re just taking away another chess move, and I don’t understand why you would want to dumb the game down,” McAfee added.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.