Pro athletes are known for their high-spending ways, despite playing careers that can be frighteningly short. Injuries and age are usually the culprits – the root causes behind these startling stats:
The average career of an NFL player is 3.3 years.
It’s not much better for NBA hoopsters – just 4.8 years.
So, the smartest players not only earn millions, but wisely save their money for their retirement years – which very likely come when they’re still in their twenties.
Sadly, sports insiders will tell you that financially savvy pro athletes is a small group. But in the NBA, it turns out the richest and best player in the game may also be the most frugal – and that’s LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
CBS Sports estimates that during his 14-year career, James has raked in more than $200 million in salary, as well as untold millions in endorsements. His Nike deal is said to be worth $1 billion.
Last week, a story broke in sports circles that King James may be the cheapest player in the NBA, according to teammate Dwyane Wade. LeBron doesn’t really dispute that charge: “That is so falsely true.”
LeBron admitted that even when it comes to his enjoyment of music, he cuts every conceivable corner – including only using his smartphone with WiFI:
“No, I’m doing (data). I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.”
This last revelation is especially telling, because commercial-free Pandora Plus costs only $4.99 a month. That’s about the cost of just one venti caramel macchiato at Starbucks. Still, LeBron’s not biting.
So, I’m connecting a few dots and theorizing LeBron’s thrifty ways make him a perfect candidate for broadcast radio listening. There are many wonderful stations to choose from in the Cleveland area, as well as Akron where LeBron grew up, and radio fits his budget.
In fact, an Akronite radio general manager told me on good authority that Bron (as he’s known in his hometown) listens to News/Talk/Sports station 1590 WAKR when he’s within signal range of the station (or in a free WiFi hot spot).
For LeBron and many others watching their spending, radio provides a great value proposition, especially if we all don’t end up getting that tax cut. In this year’s Techsurvey, it turned out radio’s no-fee structure – yes, even with all the commercials – is a main reason why nearly six in ten respondents say they love to listen:
Note the generation most likely to frugally choose radio because it’s free is Millennials. LeBron is just 32 – yes, on the upper end of Gen Y.
So, that’s my postulation. Because in an era when more and more entertainment comes with a monthly price tag – SiriusXM, Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, and of course, Pandora without commercials – the value of free entertainment grows in appeal. And while many are now making the case those FM chips should be activated in smartphones for safety reasons, there’s also the fact that broadcast radio doesn’t require an expensive phone or a subscription to the Internet.
Of all the entertainment sources, broadcast radio is, in fact, the best bang for the buck. After all, what’s a few commercials when you get great, free, local entertainment?
And I can’t help but wonder whether LeBron would be willing to carry a meter. I hear it pays pretty well.
Postscript: Pandora has now given LeBron a free premium account. Despite that, he’s still the cheapest player in the NBA.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.