It’s never easy to follow a legend.
Phil Bengtson had to follow Vince Lombardi. Ray Perkins had to follow Bear Bryant. Tim Floyd had to follow Phil Jackson. And now in Dallas, Bob Sturm is trying to follow Mike Rhyner in afternoon drive at The Ticket.
Ok, maybe that’s a little overzealous of a comparison, but if there was ever a legend to be replaced in Dallas, it’s certainly the Old Grey Wolf. But Sturm isn’t overly concerned with trying to follow a legend.
Does he realize the situation he’s in? Absolutely. But his main focus is continuing the excellent track record 1310 The Ticket has put out since its inception. He’ll help accomplish that by doing the one thing he can control: Being himself on the air.
Tyler McComas: So how would you evaluate the first six months of the show?
Bob Sturm: I think it’s gone pretty well. We weren’t bad to begin, but it was just so weird for all of us. It’s just, 20 years, man. You know everything about each other, you’ve heard all the stories and you know the body language and the likes and dislikes. Now, you scrap that and go in a whole new direction with someone that you don’t know their backstory as well.
Luckily I know Corby, but we had done very little radio together and therefore it was a rather new experience. I think we sound 1 million times smoother, already, but I realize but it took Dan and I like five years to not sound like we suck. Now, we were also in our mid-20s, so this experience will go a lot faster, but overall it’s been a fresh and new experience that I’ve really enjoyed.
TM: What was your initial reaction when Mike Rhyner retired?
BS: I think it was a shock and a bummer when Mike was retiring. It was a head spinning moment in a sense that they wanted me to try and fill Mike’s chair, which is absurd. Also, to leave Dan McDowell who’s my best friend on the planet, because we’ve been through so much together since 1999, I didn’t want him to feel like I was breaking up the team. I also didn’t want Corby to not get the future of the show that he wanted, because I don’t think it was necessarily his first thought to just move me up there. I think he had to warm to the idea.
I really just didn’t want anyone to feel upset, but at the same time, I did want to step up and answer a challenge, especially if the bosses thought that was the key to making the station strong. They’ve been very good to me for a long, long time, which includes hiring me from market No. 166 in 1998. I kind of feel, for the most part, they’ve never really asked me to do anything near this big, in terms of me leaving my comfort zone. Look, nobody wanted Mike to retire and I kind of wish we could all stay the same age like Peter Pan and keep the lineup the same. But things evolve and this is how it works.
I almost got to my 48th birthday without having to leave the noon to 3 o’clock slot, which is far and away the greatest lifestyle timeslot there is. Now I have to miss dinner a little more but there’s a lot of good in this.
The only bad thing is risking leaving a show I think was great, for a show that’s unknown. The early results are good, although I think a lot of people miss Mike. That’s normal. I think it’s a really talented team here at The Ticket and I think you could do the pairings in many, many different ways and end up with good shows. I do think Corby and I will be doing some really good stuff.
Also, let me just add this thought. I think it was important for us to get into the same location. So when Covid hit, we all did shows from our homes and some of the shows tried to figure out ways to get into the same location. Corby and I were in different locations for six weeks and the show probably sounded fine, but around April 20th we collectively said, let’s get you guys into the same room, you’ll still be 10 feet apart, or whatever. Now the verbal cues and the nonverbal cues, even the talks during the break, I think we’ve grown substantially in the last six weeks, since we got into the same room. I think that’s huge for two guys that are brand new together.
TM: Did you and Mike ever have a sit-down or a dinner where you talked exclusively about your new role with The Ticket?
BS: No, we’ve talked about a lot of things. Mike and I are quite friendly, but at the same time, we’ve talked about his path and my path in a more general term. He’s always been very complementary. He thinks I’m capable of some things beyond maybe Dallas mid-days. He would say things like that through the years. So he’s been so good to me, but we never really had a passing of the torch discussion.
I’d like to talk to him about certain things, including the name of the show, like, whether he’s totally cool with it because I respect him a ton. But we’ve never really broached that topic, because I get the sense he’s over it. He did it a long, long time and I think that’s one topic, where if he ever wanted to discuss it, that’s great. I don’t know if it’s my place to get too specific on that kind of stuff. I know that sounds evasive but we talk rather frequently still, we just don’t talk that much about the show, if that makes sense.
TM: You really entered into an incredible situation. You’re replacing a legend and during a time where sports radio has been flipped upside down.
BS: Oh, absolutely. Then not to have any games to probably play to my strengths. Yeah, that wasn’t ideal but at the same time, being at The Ticket for as long as I have, maybe that prepared me. But it’s daunting, there’s no question about it. Replacing Mike is just ridiculous and that’s why I try to convince myself that I’m not replacing him. He’s a legend and I never try to replace him, but what I will try to do is play to my strengths, which absolutely will be to cover everything in the world of sports that I absolutely love so much and work hard. I don’t think anyone probably grinds harder than I do. I think I’m probably a workaholic and I think that generally would, hopefully, be seen in the way that I do a show in the afternoon.
It’s kind of surprising, since I worked here for so long, that there’s people that haven’t heard much of me. People are busy during the day and I guess I didn’t realize that. They were familiar with me, I guess, but not listening to me for several hours a day. I don’t know how big of a part of the audience that is, but I was shocked that I could do 5,000 shows and nearly 20,000 hours with Dan and yet a lot of real loyalist in Dallas to the sport scene, because they work for a living, they are kind of unfamiliar with a lot of what I have to say. In some ways it’s a new audience and in some ways at least I have the credibility that The Ticket family is pretty welcoming, for the most part.
The guy that follows the guy always has a hard job. It’s a big responsibility to make sure that this train keeps rolling down the tracks to the level of expectation they all set for us. That’s a lot to think about. I hope this move, not only this one, but the noon to 3 o’clock moves, I think it’ll really keep us going strong for a while but I guess that’s for the audience to decide.
TM: How has your writing positively affected your radio career?
BS: I think writing has been great for me. First of all, it’s what I originally wanted to do before I discovered that I could talk for a living. I went to college to write and then found out that I got a little claustrophobic in the boundaries of writing, especially when you’re early in the game and they want you to write about the beats that nobody else wants to cover.
I wanted to talk, because that meant I didn’t have to cover a high school volleyball game. With radio I could talk about the topics that I wanted to talk about, but then I circled back to writing because it’s so valuable to basically diary your thoughts. So when I started writing, I did it for an audience of one. I would start blogging but I didn’t make any money and I didn’t really have an audience. But I just thought I wanted to write my notes, so for each game that I watch, I want to write and read them out for two reasons: One, so I can remember while I’m on the air. Two, so I can remember in five years what I thought about current topics. For example, this is what you thought back then about Tony Romo. This is what you thought about Dirk Nowitzki. Now, here you are three years later, and you may feel differently now, but it’s a reminder to kind of own your positions.
So I think it’s great in terms of accountability. Writing also scratched an itch that radio didn’t scratch, because radio is about a mass audience. I’m talking about things that most of your audience is interested in whereas I think writing allows me to be a little more niche on what my topic is. I am very interested in the X’s and O’s and the mechanics of football. I realize that’s not for a super mass audience. It’s not fantasy football, it’s not something my mom or my wife or a whole lot of people would be interested in. You really have to love football to love what I write about.
TM: I recently heard you briefly talk about phone calls on a podcast. That brings me to this: What’s your radio pet peeve?
BS: My pet peeve is probably radio people who don’t think or put a lot of thought into their opinions. Actually it’s more than just the TV audience these days with the network TV sports talk shows, I think they probably, and in defense of them, they’re probably spread so thin they can’t be experts on anything, so they kind of sound like they’re not experts on anything. I think that’s really bad for the audience and I think it makes the audience think that those opinions are something worth repeating or stealing and I think that’s a bad thing for our industry, because I was told that, at an early age, you have to be smarter than your audience or there’s no reason them to care what you say. The moment they think they know more about the topic than you do, I think that’s when you’re in big trouble.
My other one sounds bad to media people, because it sounds a little haughty, but I would say that it’s amazing to me how little the media really understands the sports they cover. I wish all of them would get as obsessive as some of us who get called nerds, because we really want to understand football or hockey or basketball at a level so the coaches and players are like, OK, this guy actually understands the game.
I don’t think that makes you a nerd. I think we should all try to dig deeper and really understand why coaches do what coaches do and why players do what players do. It’s not just watch the ball and if it crosses the goal line or goes in the hoop, then that equals good and if it doesn’t that equals bad. We should absolutely use the off-season to understand. And maybe even attend coaching clinics, just anything to feel like we’re educating ourselves on the mechanics of the sports so that we can help our audience also get smarter.
TM: So if you’re listening to radio outside of Dallas, who are you listening to?
BS: I would say Pat Kirwan on Sirius NFL Radio is the best and most influential voice I’ve ever heard in the game of football. He’s taught me so much. He does the show Moving The Chains. He used to host it with Tim Ryan, and now he does it with Jim Miller.
I don’t know if he’s the most seasoned broadcaster ever, but man, in terms of being able to explain to an audience how football works in every aspect, I feel like he’s been the college professor for me.
Before that, Chad Coppock, Jim Rome, certainly the guys at The Fan in New York, there are a lot of guys over the years that have influenced me to the point of how I sound. When I got to the year 2000 and started working with Dan a lot, Dan kind of subconsciously inspired me to find my own voice and not sound like I’m a mishmash of the three or four guys I’ve listened to the most. That’s hard for young broadcasters to do, but I think once you’ve found your own voice and start sounding like yourself and not like an off brand Jim Rome or something, I think that’s probably when I really advanced as a talker.
Tyler McComas is a columnist for BSM and a sports radio talk show host in Norman, OK where he hosts afternoon drive for SportsTalk 1400. You can find him on Twitter @Tyler_McComas or you can email him at TylerMcComas08@yahoo.com.
Beyond The Mask: Henrik Lundqvist Embraced 2nd Career in Sports Media
“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal.”
Plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, Henrik Lundqvist found himself beneath the bright lights once again, poised to put on a worthy performance. Just as he aimed to stop pucks from going in the net as the star goaltender of the New York Rangers for 15 seasons, Lundqvist sought to captivate viewers as half of a musical duo featuring former NHL forward Paul Bissonnette.
Their performance of “Good Riddance” by Green Day was in tribute to Rick Tocchet, a former NHL on TNT studio analyst who recently departed the network to serve as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.
Lundqvist serves as a studio analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NHL, breaking down players and teams throughout the broadcast and bringing his own unique style to the set. His pursuit of a post-playing career in sports media was no guarantee from the moment he retired in August 2021; in fact, he never intended to stop playing the game and competing for a Stanley Cup championship at that time.
During the 2019-20 season, Lundqvist had lost playing time to young goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, and by the year’s end, his deal was bought out by the team. In an effort to continue playing, Lundqvist signed a contract with the Washington Capitals – marking the first time in his NHL career that he would not step between the pipes for the Rangers.
Lundqvist never played a game for the team though, as it was discovered in a medical exam that he would need open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve while also having an aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. Less than two months after the successful five-hour operation, he was back on the ice rehabbing and attempting to make a full recovery – but a few months in, he began to feel unexpected chest pain. Following a medical checkup, Lundqvist was told he had inflammation around his heart. It was a significant setback that required him to step off the ice, take off his goaltender equipment and rest for several months.
After discussions with his family and friends, Lundqvist determined that the risk of taking the ice outweighed the rewards and officially stepped away from the game. Rather than conjuring hypothetical scenarios wherein he did not experience the misfortune and played for the Capitals, Lundqvist looked to the future amid the ongoing global pandemic and thought about how he could best enjoy his retirement.
“I was just mentally in a very good place,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a choice; I guess that makes it easier sometimes when the decision is made because you can’t go back-and-forth – ‘Should I?’ ‘Should I not?’ Yeah, I wanted to play but it was just not meant to be for me.”
Before any definitive resolution on his future endeavors was made though, the Rangers announced that the team would retire Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony during the 2021-22 season, making him just the 11th player bestowed that honor in franchise history. As a five-time NHL All-Star selection, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, and holder of numerous franchise records, Lundqvist had the accolades to merit this profound distinction.
Moreover, he was an important component in growing the game of hockey and contributing to the greater community, serving as the official spokesperson for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. He also was a two-time recipient of the organization’s prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, honoring the player “who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
Throughout the night, attendees regaled Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-rik!” and were treated to flashbacks of some of his memorable career moments. The night was of monumental importance for Lundqvist, during which he expressed his gratitude to the Rangers’ organization, former teammates and fans. Then, Lundqvist — referred to as “The King” — promptly took his place among team legends beneath the concave ceiling of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
“When I look back at my career, I know, to me, it was all about preparation; how I practiced and how I prepared for each game at practice,” Lundqvist said. “There’s no regrets, and I hope people, when they think about how I played, [know] that it was 100% heart and commitment to the game.”
Before this ceremony though, Lundqvist and Rangers owner James Dolan had held several meetings with one another. The purpose of these conversations was to determine the best way for Lundqvist to remain involved with the team, its fans, and the community. In the end, he was named as a lead studio analyst on MSG Networks’ broadcasts of New York Rangers hockey before the start of the 2021-22 season: the start of his foray in sports media.
This past summer, Lundqvist negotiated a new deal with Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment in which he maintained his in-studio responsibilities while increasing involvement in other areas of its sports and entertainment ventures. In this new role, Lundqvist supports the business operations for both companies, assisting in digital content development, alumni relations, and partner and sponsor activities.
When Lundqvist is not in the studio or the office, he can often be found at Madison Square Garden taking in New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, or one of the arena’s renowned musical performances. Usually, when he is in attendance, he is shown on the arena’s center-hung video board as an “NYC Celebrity” and receives a thunderous ovation from the crowd.
“The network is just part of it, but it feels great to come there,” Lundqvist said of Madison Square Garden. “Every time I go there – to see the people that I’ve known for so long – but also I love that place; I love The Garden. I think the energy [and] the variety of things that happen there is something I really appreciate. It feels really good to be a part of that.”
Sitting alongside former teammate and studio analyst Steve Valiqutte and sportscaster John Giannone, Lundqvist appears in the MSG Networks studios, located across the street from the arena, for select New York Rangers games. From the onset, he brought his allure and expertise to the set and appealed to viewers – so much so that national networks quickly began to take notice.
“I enjoy watching hockey [and] talking hockey, but the main thing to me is the team; the people that you work with,” Lundqvist said. “The guys on the panel [and the] crew behind. I really enjoy that part of it and having a lot of fun off-camera.”
One month later, Lundqvist was on his first national broadcast for the NHL on TNT where he and Bissonnette famously performed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica that went viral on social media. It had been known that Lundqvist was a musician, famously performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in his Rangers uniform to celebrate the end of the 2012-13 NHL lockout.
In fact, during his retirement ceremony, the Rangers gifted him with a custom-made guitar painted by David Gunnarsson, the same artist who used to paint Lundqvist’s goalie masks.
Aside from occasional music performances, Lundqvist brings an esoteric base of knowledge to the NHL on TNT panel as its only goaltender. Whether it be through player breakdowns, interviews, or dialogue with other analysts, Lundqvist has a perspective to which few professional hockey players can relate. There are various goaltenders among local studio panels surrounding live hockey game broadcasts, and Lundqvist is in a unique situation with MSG Networks in that he and Valiquette are both former goaltenders. Yet on Turner Sports’ national coverage, he is the only voice speaking to this different part of the game.
“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal,” Lundqvist explained. “Yes, you need to stop the puck, but a huge part of being a goalie is analyzing what’s going on. We can never really dictate the play so you need to analyze what’s happening right in front of you.”
In broadcasting at both the local and national level, Lundqvist is cognizant of the differences in each network’s studio programs. Lundqvist says appearing on the MSG Networks studio panel is more about being direct with the viewer, whereas the NHL on TNT views its panel as being conversational in nature. With Turner Sports, Lundqvist also asks his colleagues about the different teams around the league since he is most familiar with the Rangers both as a former player and studio analyst.
“I’m closer to the Rangers; I see more of what’s going on,” Lundqvist stated. “When you work [national] games, maybe you focus in on teams on the West Coast or [part] of the league you don’t see as often. You try to talk to the other guys on the panel and the crew and figure out things that are interesting about those teams.”
Hockey is a team sport, and Lundqvist felt grateful to play with his teammates and face his competitors over the years. Now as an analyst though, it is his job to analyze their games and critique them when necessary; however, he does not try to be excessively critical.
Lundqvist knows the trials and tribulations associated with the sport and can relate to scenarios many players face on a nightly basis. Therefore, he thinks about his own experience before giving an opinion, especially a critique, instantiating it with comprehensible, recondite knowledge and/or by recounting a similar situation.
“I’d much rather give them positive feedback obviously because I know it is a tough game,” Lundqvist said, “and sometimes it might look like an easy mistake, but if you can give the viewer a better explanation of why he did that, they might have a different view of that mistake.”
Now metaphorically being beyond the goalie mask, Lundqvist’s vision of the game has evidently shifted. He discerns just how intense the schedule is and the rapid pace of the game, axioms he was aware of while playing but inherently avoided thinking about. He has implemented his refined viewpoint of the game accordingly into his analysis, simultaneously utilizing the mindset and savvy he cultivated on the ice. It is, quite simply, a balancing act.
“I think people can be pretty quick to jump on guys and critique them,” Lundqvist said. “That’s where maybe you take an extra look and try to understand why it happened and give those reasons. I think that’s where it helps if you played the game [for] a long time and just love the game [because] you have a pretty good understanding of why guys react a certain way.”
The challenge tacitly embedded in the jobs of most studio analysts – Lundqvist’s included – is in presenting the information to the audience in a manner through which it learns without being confused. It is a delicate craft that takes time and genuine understanding to master, especially related to promulgating hockey analytics as Valiquette does on MSG Networks and within his company, Clear Sight Analytics.
“There’s a lot of educated viewers out there, but there’s also a lot of people that maybe don’t watch as much hockey,” Lundqvist said, “so you want to find that middle ground where you kind of educate both sides.”
By broadcasting both locally and nationally in addition to working in a specially-designed business operations role, Lundqvist is staying around the rink in his retirement while facilitating the growth of hockey. Despite the profusion of young talent, dynamic action and jaw-dropping plays, viewership of the sport on ESPN and TNT’s linear channels has dropped 22% from last season, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.
For Lundqvist though, he does not feel much has changed from playing regarding his responsibility to advance the reach and appeal of the sport. He played professionally for 20 years, beginning his career in his home country of Sweden, primarily in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In the 2004-05 season, his final campaign before arriving in New York City, Lundqvist had won the award for most valuable player. Furthermore, he was recognized as the best goalie and best player, leading Frölunda HC to its second Elitserien championship in three seasons.
His NHL debut came five years after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers but unlike many rookies over the years, he came polished and prepared to embrace the lights of Broadway. Following an injury to starting goaltender Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was inserted into the starting lineup and, from that moment on, virtually never came out.
By the end of his first year, he had been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goaltender. Additionally, he remains the only goaltender to begin his NHL career with seven consecutive 30-plus win seasons.
“I think the league is doing a great job of growing the game,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to the product and right now, it’s a great product. I feel really good about, the best way I can, to promote the game [by] talking about it, but… it feels like I’ve been doing that for 20 years.”
One means through which Lundqvist attempts to grow the game is within the studio demos he performs with the NHL on TNT, displaying different facets of the game in a technical manner. The show also embraces the characteristics of their analysts and implements them in lighthearted segments, such as zamboni races, putting competitions, Swedish lessons and, of course, musical performances.
“I’m huge on mindset and the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “I love to talk about that type of stuff and give the viewer a better understanding of what goes through their heads. In terms of personality, I don’t know if I can say [that] I’m a serious guy because I love to have fun and laugh and do fun things.”
Lundqvist thoroughly enjoys what he is doing both locally and nationally, and he ensures he surrounds himself with people he wants to be around. There are plenty of other broadcast opportunities for former hockey players, such as moving into the booth as a color commentator or between the benches as a rinkside reporter. At this moment though, he is more focused on being immersed in his current roles, performing them to the best of his ability while ensuring he allocates time to spend with friends and family.
“I see myself more as an analyst in the studio more than traveling around and being in the rink,” he said. “I think that’s another thing with the schedule; it works really well with my schedule to have one or two commitments with the networks, but then I have other things going on in my life that I commit to.”
Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between playing professional hockey and covering the sport from the studio in terms of preparation and synergy. Yet the end result is not as clearly defined since “winning” in television is quantifiably defined as generating ratings and revenue. Undoubtedly, Lundqvist is focused on doing what he can to bolster hockey’s popularity; however, he also wants to enjoy this new phase of his career being around the game he loves.
“In sports, you win or you lose,” Lundqvist explained. “With TV, you want to be yourself [and] you want to get your point out – but at the same time, if you do it at the same time you’re having a good time, I feel like that’s good TV.”
Once their careers conclude, many athletes think about pursuing a post-playing career and oftentimes end up taking on a role in sports broadcasting. On MSG Networks alone, there are plenty of former players who take part in studio coverage on live game broadcasts, such as Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils, and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders. At the national level, Turner Sports employs Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Wayne Gretzky for its studio broadcasts, while ESPN’s top studio crew includes Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.
All of these former professional hockey players had an obligation to regularly speak with media members, answering questions about games and the season at large. Lundqvist maintained a professional relationship with journalists and beat reporters, and he most enjoyed taking questions when the team was doing well. Regardless of what the end result of a game was though, he had a responsibility to divulge his thoughts and, in turn, be subject to criticism and/or negative feedback.
His stellar career and persona all came from emanating a passion for the game – and it continues to manifest itself beyond the television screen. Listening to those passionate about the game discuss it usually engenders euphony and lucidity to viewers, analogous to the sound of the puck hitting the pads or entering the glove. It is a timbre Lundqvist created 27,076 times throughout his NHL career (regular season and playoffs) in preventing goals, and one he now aims to explain en masse.
“The reason why I kept going to the rink and put all the hours in was because I really enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “If you decide to go into media or whatever it might be, I think the bottom line is [that] you have to enjoy it and make sure you have good people around you.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Should the NBA Nationalize Local TV Rights Like MLS?
The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.
Diamond Sports has been anything but a diamond in the sports world. As subscribers leave cable and satellite for streaming services, companies are dropping RSNs nationwide because they are too expensive to carry. This has caused an impending bankruptcy for the company, which owns the local rights to dozens of sports teams nationwide. It is also putting the NBA, NHL, and MLB at major financial risk.
In the short term, it is known that teams will still broadcast on their RSNs even if they aren’t getting the paychecks they were promised in previous rights deals. This will affect teams’ ability to pay players and could even create an unfair advantage among the haves of the sports world like the Yankees and Lakers and the have-nots. The NFL doesn’t face the same problems that the other leagues are facing because its rights have been nationalized.
With the NFL’s continued television dominance, college conferences also bundling up games together for more money, and the MLS guaranteeing themselves television revenue after packaging local and national rights together, could we see the other leagues follow suit? It is an option that is much easier said than done but it seems like we are moving closer to it becoming reality.
The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.
The biggest problem the NBA and other leagues would face are that the local rights to all of its teams don’t expire at the same time. If the league were to sign a deal that included giving all local rights to a streamer, the amount which the league was getting paid would be very unique year after year. It would be crazy for a streamer to pay a huge chunk of money to the NBA all at once if the number of teams they have local rights to changes every year.
It would also be insane to pay an astronomical amount if the streamer is only getting the local rights to small-market teams like the Cavs and the Pistons. A major market team like the Lakers doesn’t renew their local rights until 2032. We’re still in 2023. How does that affect the league’s operating costs?
The NBA would also have to figure out whether teams whose rights don’t expire yet deserve to be included in the pot of money garnered from selling local rights to a streamer. Whether they are or they aren’t, does it put each team at different competitive advantages and/or disadvantages when trying to acquire free agents or front-office personnel?
One of the most interesting puzzles to figure out is what influence a league owner like Washington’s Ted Leonsis has in this potential measure when all is said and done. Leonsis just acquired complete control of the regional sports network — currently named NBC Sports Washington — that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games for millions of dollars, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.
What does Leonsis do with his network if his team’s games can no longer air there? Can his team opt out of participating in a potential league offering? Or if the games continue to air on his network but are simulcasted locally on the streamer that wins local rights on a national scale, does the streamer have the ability to pay less money for rights?
If so, does that make the deal as lucrative for the NBA? And what does that mean for retransmission fees that cable companies like Comcast pay to Leonsis and other RSNs they’re still carrying?
The league will face a similar problem with the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks and other franchises that either wholly own or partially own a part of the RSNs where they broadcast their games.
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions which is why they are written here in this column. Unfortunately for the leagues, they don’t have the answers either. But if the NBA figures out a way to nationalize their product even more and make streaming games more appealing by ending local blackouts, it’ll benefit the game more than it hurts the game.
NBA, NHL, and MLB games are still some of the highest-rated programs locally in many markets when you look at how they rate vs. other cable and broadcast offerings. But at this point, the ability to charge everyone for a program that only ten percent of subscribers are watching is a losing business proponent.
The leagues should start from scratch and sell a mass package of games for maximum profit. It gives fans a more centralized location to watch their favorite teams and puts the leagues on a much more steady path than where they could be headed sooner rather than later.
Diamond in the rough to sparkling jewel of light? Only time will tell.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?
“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”
Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on!
We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.
“I HAVE A JOB.”
With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon.
“I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”
You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far.
Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service, AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker.
“I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”
Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard.
“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”
In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.
“I HAVE COMPETITION!”
That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.