Ever since Max Kellerman was on First Take last week saying that “in the United States of America, no one cares about hockey”, he has taken criticism from many in the hockey industry. First, it was ESPN anchor Linda Cohn, who tweeted her displeasure for the comments:
Then, a couple days later, Colin Cowherd, host of The Herd on FS1, chimed in on Twitter by saying that college football was one of the big four sports in the US instead of the NHL, which was further behind on his rankings:
This week, another major NHL expert chimed in with his thoughts. During the season, Cohn hosts a show on ESPN+ called In The Crease, which is a nightly show that shows all the highlights from that night’s games. Plus, you get analysis from former head coach and analyst at ESPN/NHL Network, Barry Melrose.
Melrose was on The Jake Asman Show on SB Nation Radio on Tuesday and he talked about Kellerman’s comments and how maybe he felt Kellerman was trying to get stir up the debate with his comments. You can find the full interview with Melrose here.
“The funny thing about Max, I was at ESPN when he started a long time ago. He likes hockey. He likes all sports. I think he was trying to get a razz out of the guys.”
Despite the comments that have been made, the NHL should get their chance to gain fans nationally when they resume play, which looks to happen this summer. Melrose addressed during the interview that while the NHL isn’t the most popular sport, it still is popular in its own right.
“In a lot of places, hockey is played in front of full houses every night. They are number one in a lot of cities. Hockey is a billion dollar industry. Are we as big as the other sports? No. But, I will tell you the product on the ice is great, the athletes are great. You don’t have to knock another product to make yours look better.”
One thing is for certain. The NHL is going to get an opportunity to gain more fans with an extended Stanley Cup Playoffs format and potentially more national TV exposure. Since the Olympics have been postponed until 2021, we could see more playoff games on NBC this summer, which can only help the sport.
Even though ESPN does not have the broadcast rights to the NHL anymore, it is safe to say the network will cover it when play resumes as more and more sports start to come back. Once the Stanley Cup Playoffs start, the excitement for even the casual sports fan brings them to the television.
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.