Earlier this week, the National Football League AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals hosted a pep rally at Paul Brown Stadium in their home city where the team gave away 30,000 free tickets to fans to send the team off to Super Bowl LVI in style.
The stadium was loud with chants of “Who Dey?” for the home team and featured player introductions, appearances from team alumni and speeches from members of the team to the fans in “The Jungle,” all concluding with a fireworks display that lit up the Cincinnati skyline along the Ohio River.
As the Bengals seek to #RuleItAll this Sunday in “The Big Game,” ESPN2 and the NFL Network both promoted the event and said they would broadcast it to fans who could not be at the event in-person.
One of the people who was unable to attend in-person was Mo Egger, afternoon host at ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati. Egger had hosted his Monday afternoon show from Twin Peaks Restaurant in West Chester Township, Ohio, and had to run some errands after it concluded at 6 p.m. While he was unable to attend the pep rally in-person, he disclosed that he listened to it on his car radio with Lance McAllister and Dave Lapham serving as on-air hosts.
“I think [they] did a very good job of describing what was unfolding on the field,” said Egger. “You got to hear all of the speeches; You got to hear the players being introduced… [It] was really, really good.”
Once Egger returned home at approximately 7:40 p.m., he turned on ESPN2, which said it would broadcast the pep rally on television. In fact, he had promoted it himself on his radio program earlier that day.
To his surprise, the network showed a 90-second cut of the rally, with shots of Bengals fans being at Paul Brown Stadium, and then moved on. Upon turning to NFL Network, which also said it would broadcast the pep rally, it was a similar situation: a short clip showing the event, followed by a brisk transition.
“Compared to what we were told [the networks] were going to show, they didn’t really show anything,” said Egger. “That’s okay, but you can’t tell me that you’re covering the pep rally and then give me a handful of seconds – a few morsels – of the pep rally.”
Egger’s frustration with the networks apparently misleading their viewers is something he views as a type of wrongdoing in sports media. While Egger was able to see plenty of clips from the pep rally on social media, other people may not have utilized or known to utilize that option to enjoy the event from afar, diminishing the congeniality that the NFL-produced event sought to foster.
“[I] love the NFL Network,” said Egger. “[I love ESPN]. ESPN2 last night: ‘We’re carrying the pep rally.’ Awesome! Great! If you’re not going to do it, don’t say you’re going to do it. Last night, they said they were going to do it and, well, they didn’t.”
Nonetheless, for Egger and other Cincinnati sports fans, the Bengals winning the AFC championship and having a chance to win their first Super Bowl game in franchise history is quite surreal, and they are just trying to take it all in prior to kickoff on Sunday.
“The scene… at Paul Brown Stadium: festive, celebratory, hopeful, vibrant. It was one of those [moments] that makes you kind of pause and go, ‘Holy crap. This is happening,’” explained Egger.
“A handful of times last Friday, I had NFL Network on when I was around the house, and they’re talking exclusively about the Bengals. Then… as I’m driving around, and I was in the car for a better part of an hour-and-fifteen minutes… I said to myself: ‘I am listening to a Bengals pep rally before the team leaves to go play in the Super Bowl. This still doesn’t seem like real life,’ and yet it is, and the planes have landed, and the team is in Los Angeles.”
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.