Marilyn Monroe has become an enduring symbol of stardom, tragedy, pin-up girls, and an era forever in the past. But she knew her baseball – and apparently her radio.
You may recall that along the way during a highly publicized and tragic career, she married Yankee great, Joe DiMaggio. After her death, it was said Joltin' Joe placed a bouquet of roses on her gravestone three days a week.
As it happens, Marilyn Monroe has one of the most enduring and revealing quotes about radio – ever:
The “Blonde Bombshell” was definitely listening to a Yankees game.
Speaking of radio, a couple weeks back, a blog post about play-by-play baseball stirred things up a bit, among fans of the sport as well as supporters of traditional radio. The Oakland A's did something unusual. They chose to go without a radio play-by-play deal in their home market, forcing their fans to either stream the game on their A's Cast or find something else to do.
The explanation? A push for younger fans for a sport struggling to keep up with America's changing demographics. A's president, Dave Kaval, explained, the move was all about “fan development,” but as we pointed out, this is no way to grow the team's “cume.”
A number of people reached out on our “comments” section and directly to me, explaining the underlying truth likely had more to do with the A's unsuccessful attempts at finding a willing radio partner to broadcast their season. Radio stations are increasingly wary about spending any money frivolously.
Pouring money into eight months of play-by-play sports on a team whose track record is historically spotty likely translates to long-term ratings and sales troubles. Radio is tough enough as it is without saddling a station with a undeniably long season of mediocrity.
In much the same way radio stations need to pay for distribution in settings where the money doesn't naturally flow in, the team should consider compensating a local radio station to carry its games. After all, it stands to lose a lot of 40+ fans not accustomed to streaming sporting events.
Nonetheless, the A's are trying to put a good face on their “decision” to forego radio broadcasts of their games, and are focused on their stream.
My prediction was an easy one: disaster. And now there's data that backs it up.
In fact, a new survey from Morning Consult a bigger impact on younger fans with the games no longer on broadcast radio in Oakland. The research was conducted just a few days ago among more than 1,500 self-identified sports fans. And the results should be tacked up on every sales rep's cubicles – especially those who are in the Sports Radio arena.
As Alex Silverman reports, it turns out fans in the 30-44 segment (yes, there are lots of Millennials in that age group) are most likely to tune in play-by-play baseball on local radio stations, followed by their even younger counterparts – 18-29 year-olds.
That debunks many of the prevailing theories about who listens to radio, as well as sporting events that are broadcast on AM/FM stations.
Overall, four in ten sports fans says they're less likely to consume live games if they were only available via streaming. Our new Techsurvey 2020 (released later this month) will confirm significant increases in audio streaming, but not enough to offset the loss of broadcast radio PBP.
The majority of Americans (52%) say they listen to live sports on AM/FM radio – considerably higher than satellite radio( 34%) or via streaming (30%).
While these secondary media are growing in influence, they can't carry broadcast radio's jockstrap (sorry). The mass appeal audio platform for sports remains AM/FM radio – and that's been the case for nearly a century. Betting on a future that is still years – perhaps decades – away is a great example of financially dropping the ball.
And historical data has shown, broadcast radio for sports PBP is king in the car. While sporting events are great to listen to in any location, there is something about a sporting event while driving (or being a passenger) that just seems quintessentially American.
Nearly six in ten (58%) say they listen to sporting events on AM/FM radio, well ahead of satellite and streaming.
For the Oakland A's – and their fans – this study contains little good news. Of course, there are still three weeks to go before the 2020 season begins, and with the coronoavirus scare looming, perhaps there's still time to cobble together a radio deal – if they pull out their checkbook.
For broadcast radio sports stations, this is excellent news. And a great sales piece for a medium that's taken its share of knocks in recent years.
When a sports franchise decides to play hardball with their local radio station, they do so at their own risk.
The odds of making an error by leaving broadcast radio out of the mix are very good.
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