The NBC Sports Group and Dial Global have announced a partnership to create the NBC Sports Radio Network. Beginning in September, the network will be distributed to radio stations nationwide by Dial Global.The network’s content will include hourly sports news updates, daily features as well as full-length shows.
NBC is becoming a sports powerhouse, owning the Summer 2012 Olympiad, which it will stream across several of its TV and web properties (and presumably, its radio network as well). Both NBC and ESPN are expanding their sports radio offerings, proving to advertisers that sports radio still has “legs.”
In addition to distribution on terrestrial radio stations, NBC Sports’ audio content will be available on a variety of digital platforms. Live shows will be streamed on NBCSports.com, DialGlobalSports.com, affiliate stations’ websites and other streaming services. On-demand short-form audio content will also be distributed online and through podcasts and other digital applications. Dial Global will be the exclusive ad and affiliate sales representative to the network.
“We are thrilled to bring the rich heritage of NBC Sports to listeners across national radio for the first time,” said Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group, in a statement. “By adding radio to our broadcast, cable, regional, and digital assets, the NBC Sports Radio Network will give sports fans a new way to interact with the NBC Sports Group day in and day out.”
Tapping into the NBC Sports Group’s mix of national and local assets, the NBC Sports Radio Network will provide stations both national and regional sports content. Listeners may hear hourly sports updates, long-form shows and features hosted by national NBC Sports voices, NBC Sports Regional Networks on-air personalities, or NBC affiliate sportscasters, depending upon location. Specific programming and commentator details will be announced at a later date.
This partnership expands upon the existing radio relationship between Dial Global and NBCUniversal, which includes NBC News, The Weather Channel, NBC Olympics and more. Earlier this year, NBC News partnered with Dial Global to create NBC News Radio—a 24-hour radio news network distributing news reports and content to over 700 stations nationwide.
Conservative talk-radio veteran Neal Boortz is retiring after 42 years on the air, to be replaced by embattled former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain.
As an Associated Press story describes, the 67-year-old Boortz (who broadcasts out of Atlanta) will retire as of Jan. 21, 2013, which is the scheduled date of the presidential inauguration. Boortz is syndicated through Atlanta’s WSB radio, and draws about 6 million listeners across 230 radio stations.
Cain is the 66-year-old Atlanta businessman who dropped out of the GOP presidential race in December. Cain has also hosted a WSB show. Cain is famous for his peppery delivery, and has already drawn fire for saying on Boortz’s show that “the dumb masses are ruining this country.” Cain is also the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.
“Herman Cain is the logical successor for Neal,” Cox-Atlanta market manager Dan Kearney said. “He is very well known, passionate about his beliefs, not afraid to speak his mind and our listeners have shown they love him.”Boortz will not retire completely, reports Inside Radio: He will host the “Boortz Blast,” a new twice-weekly commentary.
WSB is counting on Cain taking over the ratings and advertisers from Boortz, and is grooming Cain for the spot, with twice-daily commentary at 8:45 A.M. and 6:45 P.M. daily.
A call to WSB revealed the Boortz demographics, which are:
- Men and women 25-54
- 6 million listeners
- 240 radio stations across the country
- A conservative-leaning demographic
Triton Digital has released its monthly Internet audio Top 20 Ranker for April 2012. Slacker is up, CBS and Cumulus are down, and Pandora still leads.
The Ranker is a listing of the top-performing Internet audio stations and networks measured by the Webcast Metrics audience measurement platform. As Radio Ink details, the top five companies remain unchanged for March and April, and include Pandora, Clear Channel, CBS, Cumulus and Slacker. Based on measurements from 6 A.M. to 8 P.M. Monday through Friday, Slacker radio listenership jumped from 51,674 in March to 63,069 in April. Both Pandora and Clear Channel were slightly up, and CBS and Cumulus were down.
So not a lot of movement among the top five, but as Inside Radio describes, April’s Triton Digital Webcast Metrics report shows “in dramatic fashion” the hockey-stick growth internet radio listening has experienced over the last year. For the first time, Triton Digital measured more than 2 million “Average Active Sessions” among the top 20 webcasters in one month, representing a 71% increase over April 2011.
Pandora alone is up 119% to 1.37 million sessions over April 2011, and Clear Channel is up 94% to 246,000. Slacker is up 60% year-over-year (YoY) to 63,000
Webcast Metrics’ Average Active Sessions (AAS) are defined as “Total Listening Hours (TLH) divided by hours in the reported time period.” The “Domestic” Ranker quantifies listening done inside the U.S. based on log-based information provided by the station, this report is not MRC accredited. The “All Streams” Ranker merely verifies the quantity of streams without qualifying where they are being consumed.
Univision Radio, a leading radio company serving Hispanics in the U.S., has announced the launch of its new AM radio network, Univision America. The network will include radio stations in nine markets across the country, featuring local, national and international news, weather and traffic updates, as well as shows focused on the issues that matter most to Hispanics, including current events, health and family, finances, education, sports, and entertainment.
For advertisers, it appears there cannot be enough Spanish-language inventory. Spanish-language TV was up 8.3% year-over-year in 2011, versus 2.4% for TV overall. Spanish-language magazines were up 24.9% YoY, defying a 0.4% decline for all magazines. Arbitron's "Hispanic Radio Today" study released in November found that radio's reach among both English and Spanish dominant Hispanics is between 95% and 96%. As Billboard described, Hispanics in almost every demo and age group over-indexed in radio consumption compared to non Hispanics, spending nearly 14.5 hours a week listening to radio.
“As the leading Spanish-language radio network in the country, Univision Radio has served Hispanic audiences by bringing them best-in-class programming,” said Jose Valle, president of Univision Radio. “Univision America reinforces our commitment to continue empowering the Hispanic community by offering listeners unparalleled access to local, national and international news and information.”
Univision America will be available in Miami, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, McAllen, El Paso, San Antonio, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, featuring a combination of news segments, local programming and insightful commentary delivered by some of Univision Radio’s most revered personalities and new talent.
Univision Radio Network claims to be the #1 Spanish Radio network in the country, and in major markets, it is home to stations that rank #1 in any language. Univision Radio’s portfolio currently includes 69 owned and operated stations in 16 markets, including all top 10 markets reaching more than 16 million listeners a week.
RBR-RTV adds that “Hopefully it will add more excitement to Hispanic network radio." If Univision gives their well-known Hispanic talents/franchises their own shows and properly promotes them, "the medium will get more visibility."
Just short of its 30th birthday, Boston’s independent rock station WFNX (described as "iconic," "legendary" and "progressive" across the press) has been sold to radio giant/clearinghouse Clear Channel Communications. As the New York Times describes it, The deal for WFNX, which broadcasts at 101.7 FM, is pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission.
It is unlikely that new management will keep the old format, as 17 of 21 employees were immediately let go, as RadioInk reports. Three full-timers and one part-timer will keep WFNX on air until the sale completes. As WFNX Program Director Paul Driscoll told New England Cable News, "I think of it as a two month Irish wake, so we're going to send this legendary station off the right way."
Stephen M. Mindich, the chairman and chief executive of the station’s owner, the Phoenix Media/Communications Group, announced the sale Wednesday morning in a memo to employees, which was posted by the Boston Phoenix newspaper (another Phoenix Media property).
“We introduced Nirvana and Pearl Jam to wider audiences in 1991,” claimed Mindich. “Together with the Boston Phoenix we staged the notorious Green Day concert at the Hatch Shell in 1994…for years we broadcast One In Ten, the only program on a commercial radio station in the nation dedicated to the issues and lifestyles of the GLBT community…Here comes the catch....Despite its celebrated history, its cutting edge programming , its tradition of breaking new music, its ardent fans among listeners and advertisers, for some time it has been difficult to sustain the station -- especially since the start of the Great Recession.”
In other words: “Thanks for the memories and you’re fired,” as RadioINK described the notice.
Clear Channel owns 840 stations across the United States, including four in the Boston area: The Top 40 WXKS-FM; WJMN-FM, which plays hip-hop; and two AM stations, the talk WXKS and the “Spanish hits” WKOX.
As the Times observes, rock stations have been on the decline for much of the last decade, leaving independent stations particularly vulnerable. Last year, Emmis Communications sold WRXP in New York to Merlin Media to a former top Clear Channel executive who converted it to a talk format.
ESPN presented its annual upfront yesterday, with a heavy emphasis on authentication, apps and delivering advertiser value. While the networks struggle to create social TV experience, CNN will likely be the first to make it a norm.
At the same time, ESPN Films announced that it will resurrect its 2010 hit series of sports-oriented films 30 for 30.
As Ad Age reports, Eric Johnson, ESPN's exec VP-multimedia sales, promised advertisers more targeted reach through its digital properties including the espnW platform for female sports fans; a new ESPN radio app for both the iPhone and iPad; ESPNFC, a global soccer destination; and a partnership with Twitter that will start with the NBA Finals.
Johnson claimed as well that with the Watch ESPN authenticated TV Everywhere app (introduced last year), ESPN now reaches 40 million homes, a number it expects to double before 2013.
Of course, few networks have the budget of ESPN, and "Modern Family" fans are hardly as rabid as NBA fans. But ESPN sets the bar for cross-media convergence.
30 for 30 Vol. II
ESPN Films has announced the return of the Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning 30 for 30 film series. As with the first series, which included collaborations with acclaimed filmmakers such as Peter Berg (“Kings Ransom”), Barry Levinson (“The Band That Wouldn’t Die”), Ice Cube (“Straight Outta L.A.”) and Academy Award-winner Barbara Koppel (“The House of Steinbrenner”), ESPN Films will once again partner with a wide array of filmmakers to tell inspirational sports stories. 30 for 30 Vol. II is scheduled to premiere in October.
“30 for 30 was conceived as a finite collection and when the original series ended in December of 2010 with ‘Pony Excess,’ we had underestimated the strength of the connection fans had made between sports documentaries and the 30 for 30 brand,” said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films. “We’re proud to have created a brand that has become synonymous with quality sports storytelling and we see value in bringing back a second collection of 30 films.”
In addition to a second slate of 30 feature-length documentaries, ESPN Films will broaden its scope to support a whole new crop of stories with the creation of 30 for 30 Shorts – a 30-part digital short film series. 30 for 30 Shorts will be similar to the feature-length films in that each piece will represent a specific point of view of the filmmaker and will be a reflection of how they blend the narrative with their own visual style. Beginning in September, a new short film will debut monthly on Bill Simmons’ Grantland.com. A 30 for 30 Short entitled “Here Now” about Pete Rose is currently online as preview of the series.
Volume II of 30 for 30 will have a much more defined multimedia component through closer integration with Grantland.com by featuring filmmaker podcasts with Bill Simmons, topical oral histories, in-depth features and more. Each feature-length film and digital short will be complemented with a long-form written piece on Grantland.com that deepens the experience with additional context.
Films scheduled to air as part of 30 for 30 Vol. II include:
- “Benji” about 17-year-old NBA prospect Ben Wilson whose life was tragically cut short;
- “Broke,” a documentary about pro athletes sucked into bad investments, stalked by freeloaders, saddled with medical problems;
- “Bo Knows,” another documentary about the marketing of pro athletes like legendary sports figure Bo Jackson;
- “The Season of Their Lives,” about the 1982-83 North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball team.
Social TV Via Twitter
ESPN announced a strategic collaboration with Twitter that it believes offers fans and advertisers unique, interactive programs around major sporting events, beginning with the upcoming NBA Finals. The effort will be promoted across Twitter, ESPN networks, ABC and ESPN’s broad array of digital assets, including ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile.
Each program will be co-created by ESPN and Twitter, beginning with GameFace – the first effort, which will be focused on the NBA Finals. GameFace will be seamlessly integrated throughout the live ABC broadcasts and ESPN’s NBA Tonight programming with a dedicated Twitter hashtag #GameFace.
Fans will be encouraged to tweet photographs of their “game face” throughout the finals. At the conclusion of each game, NBA Tonight analysts will highlight the competition and reveal the best photographs on-air. The best photos will also be featured in a photo gallery on ESPN.com/NBA.
“Working together, ESPN and Twitter are giving marketers a clear and powerful way to link on-air and online social conversations around sports,” said Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s Vice President of Global Brand Strategy. “It’s the first time advertisers can engage the audience around ESPN’s premier content across screens and where the conversation is happening on Twitter.”
Added Ed Erhardt, president, ESPN Global Customer Marketing and Sales, “Advertisers and marketers have been asking for meaningful opportunities that tap into the power of social media. We know fans use ESPN and Twitter as their main source for content and connectivity. By taking that scale and combining it with the passion of sports fans, this program answers the value equation of social media while providing a new way for fans to engage with ESPN.”
On Twitter, #GameFace will be supported through Twitter’s Promoted Products suite (including a Promoted Trend during the Finals), and the experience will be plugged on the @NBAonESPN Twitter handle.
The latest version of the ESPN Radio app for iPhone, iPad and iTouch provides both live and on demand content, and includes a new feature that allows fans to build their own sports stations. Versions for Android and Windows 7 smartphones are slated to launch later this summer.
“This latest version of the ESPN Radio App builds on our promise to deliver the best sports audio content across any device,” said Marc Horine, Vice President, ESPN Digital and Print Media. “With this update, fans now have complete control over their listening experience as the app provides the functionality to customize specifically by sports, teams and athletes they care most about.”
Beginning today (May 16), fans can download the premium version of the app at no cost for a limited time. After that, for a one-time fee of $4.99, fans can access the full experience of the app, complete with the new personalization features and enhancements. The premium app will continue to give millions of ESPN Radio listeners access to live radio streams from more than 35 ESPN Radio stations, fan favorite shows like “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd, “Waddle & Silvy” (Chicago) and “The Michael Kay Show” (New York), plus select play-by-play broadcasts, live scores and text messaging.
ESPN Radio launched its first app in September 2009 and has since been one of the top paid sports apps in the marketplace. Additionally, it was named Best Radio App by Radio Ink Magazine at the Digital Convergence Awards in May 2011. The ESPN Radio App is available from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore.
Nearly six in 10 core radio listeners (57%) start their day with another medium or gadget, rather than turning on the radio, reports Inside Radio. That according to media analyst and consultancy Jacobs Media, in their Techsurvey8 report.
The 18-34 year old demo is more likely to engage with email or Facebook as their first media interaction of the day, along with their first cup of joe.
The Techsurvey8 results were gathered online from January 31-February 15 from listeners of 170 broadcast stations across the U.S. and Canada, contributing 57,358 total respondents. Jacobs Media surveyed 170 stations, 12 radio formats and 57,358 radio listeners, claiming it is the “largest technology survey ever conducted for radio.”
As a format, radio is hardly dead, but, is a more high-touch medium which, like TV, is finding itself having to meet digital natives wherever they listen.
Why AM/FM Radio still matters: While "favorite songs" and personalities rank highest, there are four emotional triggers that listeners value:
1. Having a radio on while they work
2. Putting them in a better mood
3. Providing a feeling of companionship
4. Offering an escape from the pressures of everyday life
Pandora is a (pure) player: By far, Pandora is the most popular pure-play Internet option, as nearly half (45%) of "streamies" listen to some extent, easily besting competitors like iHeartRadio (19%), Spotify (7%), TuneIn Radio (7%), and Slacker Radio (5%).
However, Pandora users are split as to whether the Internet pure play should be considered "radio" – 43% "yes" – 49% "no."
Protecting The In-Car Listening Franchise: More than half of all respondents say that most of their radio listening takes place in cars. One in ten (9%) now drives a car equipped with a system like Ford's Sync, especially fans of News/Talk and Sports/Talk.
Smartphones, Apps and Tablets coming on strong: More than half (52%) own a smartphone.
Tablets are becoming a significant part of the digital story. One-fourth say they own one (24%), and iPad has a big lead over its competitors.
The Social Media tidal wave: Eight of ten are on Facebook. More than one-fifth use Twitter, and Sports/Talk emerges as the format where Twitter rules.
New York’s 30-year-old WRKS (Kiss FM) will no longer broadcast at 98.7, reports the Wall Street Journal. Owner company Emmis Communications announced Thursday that it will lease the frequency to ESPN, effective Monday, April 30.
WRKS will merge with its WBLS, at 107.5 FM—a long-time rival—consolidating the city’s urban adult contemporary market under one call. The stations have announced they will "Maintain the Kiss FM legacy," by bringing aboard Kiss FM personality Shaila, and night-time DJ Lenny Green. Emmis has sold WRKS’s intellectual property to WBLS parent company YMF Media.
ESPN has for 11 years broadcast at 1050 AM, as the New York Times describes, challenging the better-established WFAN (a 24/7 sports station on the AM 660 frequency, which used to run “Imus in the Morning”). ESPN Radio New York will take over 12:01 a.m. Monday, and in mid-September, its AM slot will become the Spanish-language ESPN Deportes New York. That, said Traug Keller, an ESPN senior vice president, "Is the real gem [of the shuffle] which will better allow us to add a Hispanic element."
The Times speculates that this is a strong sign that ESPN Radio will pursue the rights to carry Yankees games, for which WCBS-AM pays $14 million in a yearly contract. ESPN Radio already carries the New York Knicks, Rangers and Jets games, while WFAN has the Mets, Giants, New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils.
Driven by a somewhat improved economy, and stronger-than-expected results across digital media, total U.S. communications industry spending increased 4.2% in 2011 and is on pace to grow at an accelerated 5.6% in 2012, to reach $1.185 trillion. That will outpace gross domestic product growth (GDP) by 4.4%, according to Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS), a private equity firm serving the communications, media, information, education, and business services industries in North America and Europe.
VSS in its VSS Forecast Mid-Term Update projects that several industry segments are projected to outperform GDP growth of 4.4% in 2012, including Pure-Play Consumer Internet & Mobile Services (18.1%), Public Relations & Word-of-Mouth Marketing (14.6%), Broadcast Television (9.3%), Subscription Television (7.7%), and Branded Entertainment (7.5%).
“While the VSS Forecast Mid-Term Update clearly shows the strong growth momentum of digital media in such segments as Pure-Play Consumer Internet & Mobile Services, and Branded Entertainment, it also highlights the impact of a strengthening economy,” said John Suhler, Co-Founder and President of VSS. “What’s resulted is an increase in spending within the U.S. Communications Industry as both consumers and businesses begin to expand their use of a variety of communications platforms and tools such as mobile devices and tablets. Bottom line: This is the best news for the industry in several years.”
Industry Sectors with the Biggest Gains
While growth estimates for five of six Industry Sectors – defined as groups of industry segments sharing characteristics based on primary revenue streams – outpaced expectations for 2011 and 2012, Sectors with the most dramatic changes included Targeted Media and Traditional Marketing.
Spending on Targeted Media in 2012, which includes direct marketing, branded entertainment, outsourced custom content, pure-play consumer internet & mobile services, and business-to-business (B-to-B) media, has been revised upward from the original 7.7% growth projection in the annual VSS Forecast to 8.1% in the VSS Forecast Mid-Term Update. The upward revision was driven by strong performances in all segments except branded entertainment and outsourced custom publishing. VSS adjusted the 2010-2015 CAGR from 7.9% to 8.4%, reaching $278.4 billion to reflect expectations of stronger growth for most digital components within the sector, including e-custom publications, e-media in B-to-B media, and the entire pure-play consumer internet & mobile services segment.
Traditional Marketing, which includes consumer promotions, B-to-B promotions, public relations and word-of-mouth marketing, has been revised upward from 3.1% to 3.8% in 2012, as businesses are expected to continue to increase spending for all three segments, especially B-to-B promotions. VSS raised the 2010-2015 CAGR for Traditional Marketing from 3.6% to 4.2% to reflect anticipated acceleration in spending on Traditional Marketing during the latter part of the forecast period, reaching $86.6 billion.
Entertainment & Leisure Media, which includes subscription television, entertainment media (TV programming, home video, videogames, recorded music, box office) and consumer book publishing, is the only industry sector to be downgraded in the VSS Forecast Mid-Term Update for 2012. VSS found that while there will be gains in box office and branded digital platforms, such as online and mobile videogames, it will not be enough to help offset prolonged weak results in the printed book market. As a result, the growth rate of 5.8% forecast for the sector in 2012 was trimmed to 5.7%. The 2010-2015 CAGR was also cut from 5.6% to a 5.5%, reaching $353.9 billion, as strong growth in videogames, driven by the release of new console hardware during the forecast period and a faster-than-expected stabilization in the recorded music industry, will help mitigate the projected deeper declines in print consumer books.
VSS did not change the projected 2.6% growth rate for 2012 spending on Traditional Consumer Advertising Media, which includes broadcast television, newspaper publishing, consumer magazine publishing, broadcast & satellite radio, local consumer directories, and out-of-home media. While the ad market in the first half of 2012 is expected to remain sluggish, record-breaking political and Olympics advertising will drive growth for the remainder of the year. The 2010-2015 CAGR was also left untouched at 1.9%, with spending reaching $160.4 billion because although the projected decline in print advertising will be deeper than initially expected, it will be offset by increases in internet and mobile advertising offerings of branded traditional media.
The weekly audience of all forms of online radio is now at an estimated 76 million Americans age 12 and older, reaching 29% of the population and representing an increase of more than 30% from one year ago according to the new national survey from Arbitron Inc. and Edison Research, “The Infinite Dial 2012: Navigating Digital Platforms.” The study, released yesterday, is the 20th in a series of studies dating back to 1998, and has few surprises that Nielsen, comScore and SNL Kagan have not already told us; but it offers a more comprehensive understanding of online radio.
"We've been tracking the usage of online radio in this series since 1998, and this year's increase in weekly usage is the largest year-over-year jump we've ever recorded. The increased demand for online audio content, and the ever-expanding variety of that content, shows that online radio continues to be a resilient, adaptive media for the changing needs of today's consumer," said Bill Rose, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Arbitron Inc.
"The jump in weekly online radio usage is remarkable, but really a trailing variable to the rise in smartphone penetration, which has enabled much of that growth," said Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research. "The increasing ubiquity of the mobile web is profoundly altering the quantity, nature and context of media consumption in America."
Seventeen percent of all cell phone owners have listened to online radio streamed in their cars by connecting their phones to their car stereo system; this is an increase of more than 50% in the past year when only 11% had ever done so.
Among other findings about online listening habits:
- Of those who listen to online radio at work, about 1/3 listen digitally, with 18% do so over the Internet, and 13% over smart phones; 68% listen on AM/FM radios
- Twenty two percent listened to Pandora in the past month when surveyed, up from 16% in 2011
- Fully 87% of respondents listened to both online and AM/FM radio, while 13% listened exclusively to online radio
- Those listening spent 9 hours 46 minutes on online radio, up about 150% since 2008
A total of 2,020 persons were interviewed to investigate Americans' use of digital platforms and new media. From January 20 to February 19, 2012, telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older chosen at random from a national sample of Arbitron's Fall 2011 survey diarykeepers and through random digit dialing (RDD) sampling in geographic areas where Arbitron diarykeepers were not available for the survey. Diarykeepers represent 45% of the completed interviews and RDD sampled respondents represent 55% of the completed interviews. The study includes a total of 500 cell phone interviews.
The other findings in the “Infinite Digital” survey are in line with Neilsen, comScore and other research outlets, and include these:
- Forty-four percent of all Americans age 12 and over own a smartphone, representing half of all cell phone owners
- Six in ten (61%) own a portable digital media device such as a smartphone, portable MP3 player or tablet; 40% own an Apple device (iPod/iPhone/iPad)
- Americans age 45 and older represent the largest percentage increase in social media usage in the past year, now up to 38% (from 31% in 2011)
- Fifteen percent are registered users of daily deals services such as Groupon and LivingSocial