During NFL Sundays, fans are on the edge of their seats waiting to hear what Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have to say during a game broadcast. In addition to the fans, the people in the Fox production truck are also listening so they can get to things as quickly as possible.
This past week, the lead NFL director at Fox Sports, Rich Russo, was on The WormCast: How Sports Media Happens podcast with host Jason Wormser. Russo, who has directed four Super Bowls on Fox and six Super Bowls for NFL International, discussed how listening in the truck for him and Richie Zyontz (lead producer) is key to a successful broadcast.
“For us in the truck, it’s really about listening,” Russo explained. “Just having conversations with Troy and talking to Troy about what he’s looking for during the game could maybe help me anticipate where he may be going. They are very good at playing off the monitor. The ability to listen is very important.”
One of the things that Russo gives Buck credit for is the way he is able to build a drama during any game and he knows what direction to take the broadcast at any given time:
“That verbiage has to be pretty quick, pretty succinct as to what they want, what they are looking for,” said Russo. “Even if I wasn’t working with the crew, if you turn on a game that Joe and Troy are doing, it’s a huge game. I think they do such an amazing job… Joe is so good at building the drama. He is so understanding of when to lay out, when the crowd is going crazy, or when to hear the cadence of the quarterback. That’s not easy to do. He really knows.”
That preparation for a game broadcast involves looking into certain things that may happen during the game following the prep work done by the broadcast and production crew. Russo will hear from Aikman what his key points of emphasis might be, and the director might make it a point to get to it quicker than when Aikman might have otherwise.
“I do go through certain situations on gameday with all the camera operators whether it’s stories, specific shots we are looking for,” Russo said.
“Maybe Troy, for example, wants to see the safeties earlier where maybe the safeties disguise some of their coverages, so I may say I’m going to get to the play-by-play camera a little earlier so we can, in fact, see those. Troy likes to telestrate prior to the snap, so I just want to warn our camera guys about that and to look out for that. There’s a lot of different variables that go into these discussions prior to the game.”
In terms of how game broadcasts could potentially be improved in the future, Russo said that while he loves audio, the networks are not allowed to use it all:
“I always love audio when we go back and you watch NFL Films when you hear these guys mic’d,” he said. “It’s all after-the-fact. It’s all in post. There have been times where we have mic’d players in Super Bowls. You can only use a certain amount of audio. I sometimes wish with that audio, we can do a little more in real time and I’m not so sure we can get to that. Some of that audio, I sometimes wish, we can incorporate into our games at times.”
During this podcast, Russo also goes into the details of what the prep for the Super Bowl is like when Fox has the broadcast, so it is another way to prepare for the big game coming up on Sunday.
16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
The news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.
The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in their latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets.
The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.
New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend
More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.
In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.
Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.
Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.
Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time
Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:
“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”
Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.
Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.