‘The Rivalry’ took center stage in the 2021 American League Wild Card Game last night as the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox squared off at Fenway Park in Boston. the playoff game was broadcast on multiple ESPN platforms. While the game itself lived up to the hype, with the Red Sox defeating the Yankees 6-2, viewers found themselves switching away from the primary broadcast. Many took to social media to say it was the color-commentary of former New York Yankees third baseman and current Major League Baseball analyst on ESPN, Alex Rodriguez, that made them change channels.
On Wednesday morning, two of 670 The Score’s shows shared a discussion of the night on television. Bernstein and Rahimi were joined by Mully and Haugh. The quartet spoke about the appeal of the Statcast, which aired on ESPN2, and how it made watching the game more enjoyable for fans who were unable to bear the Sunday Night Baseball pairing of play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian and the aforementioned Rodriguez for another high-stakes game.
“I turn on the game and it’s A-Rod and Vasgersian… wait! [Jason] Bennetti, Eduardo Perez and Mike Petriello were on [ESPN2],” said Dave Bernstein, midday host and senior columnist at 670 The Score. “It was like getting out of baseball ‘stupid’ prison, and [there was a large] number of people who came on [Twitter] and thanked me [for telling them]… apparently, it was not as well known as I thought.”
After Mike Mulligan made a remark that Bernstein’s “ears must have been burning” watching the primary ESPN broadcast of the game, the Chicago sports radio host expressed his gratitude for the second broadcast, and how it made the viewing experience of the first game of the postseason more bearable.”
“The disparity between those broadcasts… Oh my gosh!,” said Bernstein. “You’re not bleeding out of your ears. A-Rod always has a rough night… he sucks!”
ESPN introduced the Statcast alternate broadcast during the 2018 season during the Major League Baseball playoffs and added it to Sunday Night Baseball in 2020. The broadcast, featuring Chicago White Sox play-by-play announcer Jason Bennetti, former Major League Baseball player Eduardo Perez and MLB.com Statcast Insider Mike Petriello, has received much acclaim and has served as a welcome change from the traditional style of live game broadcasting.
Leila Rahimi, co-host of “Bernstein and Rahimi” on 670 The Score, says the lack of intelligence on the primary broadcast is a considerable difference between it and the Statcast. She read a tweet while on the air that put Rodriguez’s analysis into perspective posted by Marc Carig, a baseball writer and deputy managing editor at The Athletic.
“He was really good at hitting and infield — I promise,” quipped Rahimi after reading Carig’s tweet. “There was a time when he was really good at both.”
In response, Bernstein simply said: “Turn [Rodriguez’s] mic off.”
ESPN recently introduced an alternate viewing experience for 10 of its Monday Night Football broadcasts, with brothers and former NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning breaking down the action as it happens and interviewing celebrity guests from the worlds of sports and entertainment. The broadcast, known informally as the “ManningCast,” has seen its ratings rise up over the first three weeks of action, with just over 10% of viewers, on average, choosing the alternate experience over the traditional crew, which includes play-by-play announcer Steve Levy, and former NFL players Brian Griese and Louis Riddick providing color commentary.
“The broadcast separated from the equation — that was a fun game,” said Haugh.
ESPN will not telecast any of the remaining Major League Baseball postseason games on television or its streaming platforms; however, ESPN Radio will have exclusive coverage of all postseason contests on-the-air, continuing with tonight’s National League Wild Card game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals. Jon Sciambi and Kyle Peterson are on the call for the single-game elimination contest with coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. EST/6:30 p.m. CST.
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.