Sports Talk Radio Continues To Prosper

RadioInk just completed its Sports Radio Conference out in San Diego, in which I was in attendance. Aside from being able to talk sports with these owners and GM’s, valuable insight was provided into understanding this format and ways to continue to grow sports talk radio nationwide.


Here are five key highlights that I took from this year’s show:

1. Content still remains king.

As a format that is best known for providing some of the most unique content, this still remains the most important factor in keeping listeners. The ability to manage your on-air talent, allowing them to have an opinion, while being entertaining is still what makes the best of stations stand apart from the rest.


2. Be Everywhere.

The ability to access content 24/7 from anywhere in the world is unlike any other time in history. People are busy individuals (or so they think) and feel that they should be able to access content on-demand. The ability to seamlessly provide this content to them on every platform is of the utmost importance.


3. Standout from the crowd.

Not only should your audio content standout to attract/keep listeners, so should the platforms that you are on stand out. Basic apps, boring websites, bad quality videos, etc are a sure fire way to lose an audience. Says Edison Research President, Larry Rosin, “people want apps that do so much more than simply stream. They want apps that do really cool things.”


4. Cross-Promotion

Pretty self explanatory. But if you are a cluster with a 3 or 4 stations, that importance to promote your other stations on-air or on various platforms can do wonders for driving traffic.


5. Go Mobile

This is piggy-backing off of point #2, but can not be overstated. Traffic, listening, and audience behaviors are quickly moving to digital mobile platforms (smartphones and tablets).

Mobile devices are rewiring behavior extremely quickly and you need a complete plan to stay competitive in that environment; especially to remain viable among younger fans.


To read the full Infinite Dial Sports Talk Edition, click here.







Radio Ink recently released a report detailing the state of Sports Talk radio for the major networks and where each group believes is in store for 2014. The overwhelming consensus? Digital and Mobile growth.


In the report, top executives from ESPN, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and Yahoo Sports Radio were interviewed. Fox Sports Radio, for the record, declined to be interviewed.


To really see the impact of digital/mobile for these groups you can turn to the Worldwide Leader ESPN. Traug Keller, SVP/Production, Business Divisions at ESPN, says that his group is seeing consistently north of a 40 percent bounce to their ESPN radio terrestrial numbers thanks to their digital products.


The competition will be stiff in 2014 and the content offered on-air will be essential to these groups continuing to keep market share. But what will be just as important is being everywhere the listener is, and that includes the mobile app. Chris Corcoran, EVP/GM, Sports Programming at WestwoodOne, best sums it up: “We think it’s (mobile app) a critical piece of our business strategy. As time goes by, it’s going to become a major part of what we’re trying to do, and kind of a business on its own”. He goes on to say, “We’re trying to work with NBC to make sure there’s promotion and awareness from the network. I think a big part of that will be on the app.”


Don’t believe everything that you hear, b/c as we all know, there are usually three sides to the truth – one side, the other side, and then the truth. In this case, radio says one thing about the amount of listeners, Arbitron claims another number with their PPM (Portable People Meter), and then their is the truth! And it is hidden in plain sight.


The perception is that radio has declined but that is not the case. People may spend less time listening than they used to, but there is still an appetite for it. The new radio listening, or audio, is way up – especially on the sports format. Traug Keller of ESPN says, “Listening is 65% higher than what is recorded by Arbitron if you add podcasts and its 220 million downloads.”


Sports talk hosts bring their flare and personality to the airwaves and have a way of captivating an audience, especially during major sports seasons. They can be the measuring stick for teams and coaches to gauge how they are doing. And with the advent of podcasting, anybody is able to simply download a live broadcast to be heard at a later time.


So yes, live radio listening may be down, but overall listening may actually be up!