Major League Baseball is staring at the possibility of a canceled season as the players and owners struggle to find common ground on compensation. Wednesday afternoon, during his SiriusXM show, Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo didn’t hold back in blaming the players.
Although the players union agreed to prorated salaries shortly after it was realized the 2020 season would not start on time, MLB argues the deal would need renegotiation if games are to be played without fans in attendance. MLB has floated the idea of a 50-50 revenue split which doesn’t appear to have much support from the players union. That’s where Russo’s rant comes in.
“I don’t want to hear another word. I don’t want to hear another player moan and groan,” Russo said. “I don’t want to hear Clayton Kershaw on Dan Patrick. I don’t want to hear Ian Snell or Blake Snell or whatever his name is. I don’t want to hear Bryce Harper, I don’t want to hear Boras, I don’t want to hear another word. The union knew that if they we’re gonna play games in an empty stadium, they knew they were gonna have to take a price reduction. They knew it. So all of them can go to hell. Go to hell. That’s garbage.”
Russo cited Tuesday’s New York Post report from Joel Sherman, which stated the players union may have known the proposal they agreed to in March for prorated salaries could potentially need to be adjusted.
“What a disgrace. They knew right from the get-go, that the letter and the exchange and the agreement that was made in March regarding the whole thing and the 50-50 revenue split, that they knew it would have to be renegotiated and changed if there was a situation,” Russo said.
While these comments were made on his SiriusXM channel, Russo does also host a show on MLB Network, which is primarily owned by Major League Baseball.
“And I got [players’ union executive director] Tony Clark telling the whole world how dare [commissioner Rob] Manfred try to jam a salary cap by us during a global pandemic when they asked for confirmation” Russo added, referring to the email clarifying that another negotiation may be needed. “And now since then they’ve made a big stink about the 50-50 thing. Go to hell. All of you.”
16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
The news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.
The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in their latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets.
The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.
New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend
More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.
In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.
Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.
Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.
Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time
Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:
“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”
Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.
Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.