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What Makes 1st Time Attendees Decide The BSM Summit Is Worth It?

“Several attendees will be making their first trip to the Summit in New York City next month.”

Tyler McComas




It’s hard to know exactly what to expect during your first trip to the BSM Summit. Through colleagues and contacts, you’ve heard about all of the great networking opportunities, as well as the incredible forum provided to learn from the brightest minds in the business. But you can’t really replicate the true feel of the BSM Summit until you attend it for the first time.

When I attended my first summit in 2019 in Los Angeles, I didn’t realize just how open every single attendee would be. Many of the best names in sports media were present, but an ounce of ego was not.

I was blown away at the willingness of every single person in attendance to be open to sharing ideas and learning from one another. That’s just one of the many things you don’t know about the BSM Summit until you attend it for the first time

Several attendees will be making their first trip to the Summit in New York City next month. Why did they decide to attend for the first time? Well, at least a few of them made the decision based on the unique opportunity the BSM Summit presents.

“I’ve always been a long admirer of Jason and Barrett Sports Media, overall,” said Zena Burns, senior VP of Futuri Media. “I’ve always had my eye on the BSM Summit. We have a product called Topic Pulse, which is an AI driven, story discovery and social content system that’s used by a ton of sports radio stations across the United States. I’ve always wanted to go to The Summit and I think the reason why I finally said, alright, I’m buying a plane ticket, is because we’re in a really unique time with the space, with the growth of all things sports. We actually launched a new version of Topic Pulse called Topic Pulse Sports that’s all about Esports betting, fantasy sports and VR content. As we expand our sports portfolio, and we evaluate which events would make the most sense to attend, The Summit was a no-brainer.”

“I’ve been a fan of Jason ever since I started to see his programming career take off in San Francisco,” said Mike McVay, president of McVay Media Consulting. “I’m impressed with what I read in the publication. A number of my friends have gone in the past few years and reported back to me who was there and what they learned. So it’s a real opportunity for me when I’m not speaking, to sit and take notes and learn something.”

“I follow Jason Barrett and everything BSM does,” said Flynn Foster, president of Guaranty Media. “We have a strong emphasis on sports in our company. We’re the LSU flagship, New Orleans Saints radio station, ESPN radio station with nine-plus hours a day with local sports commentary. If you’re going to see what the world is doing in sports, you go look at what Jason Barrett is doing.”

What’s interesting is that it seems all three have done their research before committing to the event. That means they asked around to try and understand what to expect from the event.

“I’ve heard it was really good,” Foster said. “I’ve gone and looked at speakers, past speakers, of course, I follow the Top 20 and read the daily email every day. We’re not big on reinventing the wheel, we like to steal ideas from others and I’m bringing a new guy that’s working with us that’s running our podcast network and all of our video production and I wanted to introduce it to him, as well.”

“Obviously, I’ve heard about the networking opportunities,” Burns said. “That’s a no-brainer. But also meaningful discussions about the topics that are of utmost importance and moving the industry forward. I think it’s so great to be able to have a forum like this. Jim Roberts from our team is also coming along with me and we never want to be on the hamster wheel. We never just want to continue to do the same thing over and over without having the discussions that move things forward. Everything I’ve heard from peers and colleagues that have experienced it has come back and said they’ve had some very meaningful conversations.”

“A great opportunity to hear from really smart and high profile people talk about their success and failures,” McVay said. “At another conference, sports might be one panel or one session. But this is an entire two days devoted to the genre. That in itself makes it pretty special. 

Each of these three new attendees are looking to share ideas with other industry professionals, but they’re also out to take back useful information that will help their respective companies. That’s the overall goal, right? The BSM Summit presents those opportunities, even if the goals differ for people out to learn different things. 

“I think I’d like to further understand how spoken word programming is evolving, given that sports is probably one of the fastest-growing areas in media, not just radio,” said McVay.

“How to make another dollar, ” laughed Foster, “If we can get one more, that would be good. I’m not going to meet somebody famous and get their cell phone number, I’m going to see what the best practices are. And to see how we can grow our sports content and present more to our advertisers.”

“What leaders in the space think is really important today,” Burns said. “And by really important, I mean, alright, we may think XYZ is important, but what is truly important in the space, and more importantly, where do they see the future in the space going. What they think about audience trends, what they think about how their business is growing, what their future outlook is, so that we can be better partners for our company and keep them ahead of the curve.”

That’s one of the many benefits of the BSM Summit. No matter what side of the mic you’re on, no matter what your job title is, there’s something you’ll be able to take back with you. Some will do that via the virtual option, whereas some have decided to attend in-person. Both offer unique advantages, but for two of the attendees it made the most sense to travel to New York.

“Well it’s not just the Zoom fatigue thing, right?” laughed Burns. “Obviously, virtual events are incredible for those who can’t make the trip. I think it’s really wonderful there’s a virtual option so you can experience it the way you want to experience it. But to really be able to be in the room and have those face-to-face conversations and be able to make those connections and have those meaningful discussions, that’s something you just can’t replicate.

“When you eat what you kill, you’re always killing,” McVay said, referring to the fact he owns his own consulting business. “You’re afraid to stop killing in fear there will be nothing to kill in the future. It’s always important to me, in terms of clients, but I don’t consult on the sports front so it’s more about me learning.”

The BSM Summit is extremely constructive but it’s also incredibly healthy for the industry. To be able to host so many talented names and voices in the same building for a two-day event is something that was much needed. The good thing is everyone seems to agree with that sentiment. It brings people together and creates a stronger bond within the industry, 

“It’s crucial,” Burns said. “We recently did a major research study on this. There has never been a more critical time for leaders in any type of media or entertainment to completely rethink the way they’re engaging with their audiences. Audiences have never had so many options and our research has shown that the pandemic has really hardened the habits of a lot of people when it comes to media and entertainment consumption. They’ve picked up new habits and they’re not necessarily going back to their old way of doing things. An event like this is crucial to help the industry continue to move forward.”

“Oh I think it’s great,” Foster said. “Obviously I don’t know the whole story about how it got started but I assume there was a hole that Barrett Sports Media has obviously filled. It’s an opportunity for all of us in this industry to get together and hopefully share the best practices.”

BSM Writers

The Future Is Now, Embrace Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible.

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This week has been a reckoning for sports and its streaming future on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, ESPN+, and more.

Amazon announced that Thursday Night Football, which averaged 13 million viewers, generated the highest number of U.S. sign ups over a three hour period in the app’s history. More people in the United States subscribed to Prime during the September 15th broadcast than they did during Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday. It was also “the most watched night of primetime in Prime Video’s history,” according to Amazon executive Jay Marine. The NFL and sports in general have the power to move mountains even for some of the nation’s biggest and most successful brands.

This leads us to the conversation happening surrounding Aaron Judge’s chase for history. Judge has been in pursuit of former major leaguer Roger Maris’ record for the most home runs hit during one season in American League history.

The sports world has turned its attention to the Yankees causing national rights holders such as ESPN, Fox, and TBS to pick up extra games in hopes that they capture the moment history is made. Apple TV+ also happened to have a Yankees game scheduled for Friday night against the Red Sox right in the middle of this chase for glory.

Baseball fans have been wildin’ out at the prospects of missing the grand moment when Judge passes Maris or even the moments afterwards as Judge chases home run number 70 and tries to truly create monumental history of his own. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand has even reported there were talks between YES, MLB, and Apple to bring Michael Kay into Apple’s broadcast to call the game, allow YES Network to air its own production of the game, or allow YES Network to simulcast Apple TV+’s broadcast. In my opinion, all of this hysteria is extremely bogus.

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible. Amazon brought in NBC to help with production of TNF and if you watch the flow of the broadcast, the graphics of the broadcast, NBC personalities like Michael Smith, Al Michaels, and Terry McAuliffe make appearances on the telecast – it is very clear that the network’s imprint is all over the show.

NBC’s experience in conducting the broadcast has made the viewing experience much more seamless. Apple has also used MLB Network and its personalities for assistance in ensuring there’s no major difference between what you see on air vs. what you’re streaming.

Amazon and Apple have also decided to not hide their games behind a paywall. Since the beginning of the season, all of Apple’s games have been available free of charge. No subscription has ever been required. As long as you have an Apple device and can download Apple TV+, you can watch their MLB package this season.

Guess what? Friday’s game against the Red Sox is also available for free on your iPhone, your laptop, or your TV simply by downloading the AppleTV app. Amazon will also simulcast all Thursday Night Football games on Twitch for free. It may be a little harder or confusing to find the free options, but they are out there and they are legal and, once again, they are free.

Apple has invested $85 million into baseball, money that will go towards your team becoming better hypothetically. They’ve invested money towards creating a new kind of streaming experience. Why in the hell would they offer YES Network this game for free? There’s no better way for them to drive subscriptions to their product than by offering fans a chance at watching history on their platform.

A moment like this are the main reason Apple paid for rights in the first place. When Apple sees what the NFL has done for Amazon in just one week and coincidentally has the ability to broadcast one of the biggest moments in baseball history – it would be a terrible business decision to let viewers watch it outside of the Apple ecosystem and lose the ability to gain new fans.

It’s time for sports fans to grow up and face reality. Streaming is here to stay. 

MLB Network is another option

If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of watching the Yankees take on the Red Sox for free on Apple TV+, MLB Network will also air all of Judge’s at bats live as they are happening. In case the moment doesn’t happen on Apple TV+ on Friday night, Judge’s next games will air in full on MLB Network (Saturday), ESPN (Sunday), MLB Network again (Monday), TBS (Tuesday) and MLB Network for a third time on Wednesday. All of MLB Network’s games will be simulcast of YES Network’s local New York broadcast. It wouldn’t shock me to see Fox pick up another game next Thursday if the pursuit still maintains national interest.

Quick bites

  • One of the weirdest things about the experience of streaming sports is that you lose the desire to channel surf. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Brandon Ross of LightShed Ventures wonders if the difficulty that comes with going from app to app will help Amazon keep viewers on TNF the entire time no matter what the score of the game is. If it does, Amazon needs to work on developing programming to surround the games or start replaying the games, pre and post shows so that when you fall asleep and wake up you’re still on the same stream on Prime Video or so that coming to Prime Video for sports becomes just as much of a habit for fans as tuning in to ESPN is.
  • CNN has announced the launch of a new morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. Variety reports, “Two people familiar with plans for the show say it is likely to use big Warner Bros. properties — a visit from the cast of HBO’s Succession or sports analysis from TNT’s NBA crew — to lure eyeballs.” It’ll be interesting to see if Turner Sports becomes a cornerstone of this broadcast. Will the NBA start doing schedule releases during the show? Will a big Taylor Rooks interview debut on this show before it appears on B/R? Will the Stanley Cup or Final Four MVP do an interview on CNN’s show the morning after winning the title? Does the show do remote broadcasts from Turner’s biggest sports events throughout the year?
  • The Clippers are back on over the air television. They announced a deal with Nexstar to broadcast games on KTLA and other Nexstar owned affiliates in California. The team hasn’t reached a deal to air games on Bally Sports SoCal or Bally Sports Plus for the upcoming season. Could the Clippers pursue a solo route and start their own OTT service in time for the season? Are they talking to Apple, Amazon, or ESPN about a local streaming deal? Is Spectrum a possible destination? I think these are all possibilities but its likely that the Clippers end up back on Bally Sports since its the status quo. I just find it interesting that it has taken so long to solidify an agreement and that it wasn’t announced in conjunction with the KTLA deal. The Clippers are finally healthy this season, moving into a new arena soon, have the technology via Second Spectrum to produce immersive game casts. Maybe something is brewing?
  • ESPN’s Monday Night Football double box was a great concept. The execution sucked. Kudos to ESPN for adjusting on the fly once complaints began to lodge across social media. I think the double box works as a separate feed. ESPN2 should’ve been the home to the double box. SVP and Stanford Steve could’ve held a watch party from ESPN’s DC studio with special guests. The double box watch party on ESPN2 could’ve been interrupted whenever SVP was giving an update on games for ESPN and ABC. It would give ESPN2 a bit of a behind the scenes look at how the magic happens similarly to what MLB Tonight did last week. Credit to ESPN and the NFL for experimenting and continuing to try and give fans unique experiences.

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BSM Writers

ESPN Shows Foresight With Monday Night Football Doubleheader Timing

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7 and then 10 on their primary channel.

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The Monday Night Football doubleheader was a little bit different this time around for ESPN.

First, it came in Week 2 instead of Week 1. And then, the games were staggered 75 minutes apart on two different channels, the Titans and Bills beginning on ESPN at 7:15 PM ET and the Vikings at the Eagles starting at 8:30 PM on ABC and ESPN+. This was a departure from the usual schedule in which the games kicked off at 7:00 PM ET and then 10:00 PM ET with the latter game on the West Coast.

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7:00 PM and then 10:00 PM ET on their primary channel. That’s the typical approach, right? The NFL is the most valuable offering in all of sports and ESPN would have at least six consecutive hours of live programming without any other game to switch to.

Instead, they staggered the starts so the second game kicked off just before the first game reached halftime. They placed the games on two different channels, which risked cannibalizing their audience. Why? Well, it’s the same reason that ESPN was so excited about the last year’s Manningcast that it’s bringing it back for 10 weeks this season. ESPN is not just recognizing the reality of how their customers behave, but they’re embracing it.

Instead of hoping with everything they have that the customer stays in one place for the duration of the game, they’re recognizing the reality that they will leave and providing another product within their portfolio to be a destination when they do.

It’s the kind of experiment everyone in broadcasting should be investigating because, for all the talk about meeting the customer where they are, we still tend to be a little bit stubborn about adapting to what they do. 

Customers have more choices than ever when it comes to media consumption. First, cable networks softened the distribution advantages of broadcast networks, and now digital offerings have eroded the distribution advantages of cable networks. It’s not quite a free-for-all, but the battle for viewership is more intense, more wide open than ever because that viewer has so many options of not just when and where but how they will consume media.

Programmers have a choice in how to react to this. On the one hand, they can hold on tighter to the existing model and try to squeeze as much out of it as they can. If ESPN was thinking this way it would stack those two Monday night games one after the other just like it always has and hope like hell for a couple of close games to juice the ratings. Why would you make it impossible for your customer to watch both of these products you’ve paid so much to televise?

I’ve heard radio programmers and hosts recite take this same approach for more than 10 years now when it comes to making shows available on-demand. Why would you give your customers the option of consuming the product in a way that’s not as remunerative or in a way that is not measured?

That thinking is outdated and it is dangerous from an economic perspective because it means you’re trying to make the customer behave in your best interest by restricting their choices. And maybe that will work. Maybe they like that program enough that they’ll consume it in the way you’d prefer or maybe they decide that’s inconvenient or annoying or they decide to try something else and now this customer who would have listened to your product in an on-demand format is choosing to listen to someone else’s product entirely.

After all, you’re the only one that is restricting that customer’s choices because you’re the only one with a desire to keep your customer where he is. Everyone else is more than happy to give your customer something else. 

There’s a danger in holding on too tightly to the existing model because the tighter you squeeze, the more customers will slip through your fingers, and if you need a physical demonstration to complete this metaphor go grab a handful of sand and squeeze it hard.

Your business model is only as good as its ability to predict the behavior of your customers, and as soon as it stops doing that, you need to adjust that business model. Don’t just recognize the reality that customers today will exercise the freedom that all these media choices provide, embrace it.

Offer more products. Experiment with more ways to deliver those products. The more you attempt to dictate the terms of your customer’s engagement with your product, the more customers you’ll lose, and by accepting this you’ll open yourself to the reality that if your customer is going to leave your main offering, it’s better to have them hopping to another one of your products as opposed to leaving your network entirely.

Think in terms of depth of engagement, and breadth of experience. That’s clearly what ESPN is doing because conventional thinking would see the Manningcast as a program that competes with the main Monday Night Football broadcast, that cannibalizes it. ESPN sees it as a complimentary experience. An addition to the main broadcast, but it also has the benefit that if the customer feels compelled to jump away from the main broadcast – for whatever reason – it has another ESPN offering that they may land on.

I’ll be watching to see what ESPN decides going forward. The network will have three Monday Night Football doubleheaders beginning next year, and the game times have not been set. Will they line them up back-to-back as they had up until this year? If they do it will be a vote of confidence that its traditional programming approach that evening is still viable. But if they overlap those games going forward, it’s another sign that less is not more when it comes to giving your customers a choice in products.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: Sunday Ticket Has Problems, Marcellus Wiley Does Not

Demetri Ravanos




On this episode of Media Noise, Demetri is joined by Brian Noe to talk about the wild year FS1’s Marcellus Wiley has had and by Garrett Searight to discuss the tumultuous present and bright future of NFL Sunday Ticket.






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