The financial breakdown between Learfield IMG and their college affiliates has been a mystery for a long time, until now. Sportico obtained royalty reports from eight schools showing the financial breakdown with the universities and their athletics broadcast partner.
Georgia takes the top spot among the eight obtained reports as the most lucrative relationship for Learfield IMG. Georgia Athletics broadcasts made Learfield IMG $7.4 million in the 2019-20 season. Marshall slotted in as the least profitable relationship until the numbers from UCLA came in.
Marshall made Learfield IMG $492,000 in 2019-20, but UCLA didn’t net them a profit. Bruins athletic broadcasts lost the company a combined $2.63 million from 2018 through 2020. Sportico attempted to secure information from more than eight schools, but received heavy pushback, especially when requesting University of Texas records. Learfield IMG petitioned the state Attorney General’s Open Records Division to deny the request. They cited the request as “profoundly detrimental” to its business.
“The trade-secret exemption is probably the single most abused and distorted of all freedom-of-information exemptions,” said Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida in the article. “If open records laws mean anything at all, they mean that the public gets to see how an agency’s money is being spent and where revenue is coming from. The public has an absolute right to know whether a university negotiated a good bargain, or whether a commercial partner like Learfield is getting a preferential sweetheart deal.”
Zooming in on the one school that hasn’t brought in profits, Learfield IMG told Sportico that their relationship with UCLA isn’t dire.
“It’s important to separate a ‘renegotiation’ from necessary adjustments, due to impairments, which are in keeping with the contracts we have in place with our partners,” the company said. “As with practically all of our discussions at the moment, conversations with UCLA are primarily about the latter and not the former.”
The pandemic-related impact reduced the money Learfield IMG owed to UCLA after last season by $305,294. Schools with strong baseball programs felt the financial pain on another level after canceling the entire 2020 spring season.
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.