So I’m reading a blog from a well-known sports marketing agency (who shall remain nameless) and I come across a post that says, “Today, people are 10 times more likely to check Twitter or Facebook for breaking news than sports radio. In fact, 81% prefer the Internet for their sports news, period. This is radio, signing off.” The post is punctuated by a graphic pronouncing “Internet killed the radio jock!”
Good Game takes severe umbrage (love that word!) with this assumption. It is both short-sighted and simplistic. It smacks of yet another social media bandwagon jumper, warning us yet again of the inevitable demise of traditional mediums.
Sports Radio Flexes Big Muscles
In fact, there’s a very strong evidence that sports radio is growing – its audiences, its advertising revenues, its personalilites – and what’s more – radio is key component in the battle for sports network supremacy amongst North American media companies.
In the United States, the sports talk radio format has grown almost 65% since 2002. There are now 677 stations according to figures from Inside Radio. In Canada, TSN has followed the lead of its sister to the south, ESPN, and recently re-branded three new stations (Vancouver/Winnipeg/Montreal) to an all-sports format. Toronto now has two all-sports stations, the first, FAN590, being one of the most consistent ratings performers in the last decade.
The strong numbers lies in the very nature of sports itself. Its undeniable foothold in popular culture inspires dialogue. Fans are among the most passionate people in the world – and they want to share their opinions with other like-minded folks. Not just on Twitter or Facebook, but with thoughtful, meaningful dialogue. Increasingly, sports radio is the forum of choice. The advent of instant tweets and Fan Page posts simply adds another dimension to this passionate conversation.
Surprisingly, the sports format seems to be growing at the expense of music. After all, music is now available on multiple platforms, particularly a fully customizable iPod or on niche-targetedsatellite services from SiriusXM. Sports radio, on the other hand, thrives on local teams, local fans and local advertising. According to a recent article in Sports Business Journal, the launch of numerous sports stations on the FM dial also is fueling growth. Staff writer John Ourand, points out that 125 sports talk radio stations were operating on FM nearing the end of 2011. [BIA/Kelsey].
Radio Key Integrated Media Platform
Here’s the other reason sports radio isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Radio is an integral part of the 21st media company platform strategy. The ESPNs, TSNs and Sportsnets of this world get it. Storytelling – and the sharing of great stories – is becoming the new currency of the modern world. Successful media companies share their most compelling stories across a wide spectrum of platforms.
ESPN streams online, televises on TV and has introduced apps and podcasts designed for mobile devices. They share talent too, shifting on-air personalities from TV to radio to internet. Each platform cross-promotes the other. Behind it all, the media assets they can present to advertisers are rich, connected and comprehensive.
Of all formats, it could be argued that those founded on delivering sports content are not only the most likely to survive, but will thrive in the modern media landscape. Twitter and Facebook aren’t driving sports radio stations to extinction, they are making them even better – now and in the near future.
Long live the sports radio jock!
What do you think is the future of the marriage of social media and sports radio? Leave us your comments below or tweet at us @SportsNetworker!