Ben Simmons has been one of the major talking points during the 2021-22 NBA season despite never stepping foot on a basketball court.
Controversy arose when Simmons asked for a trade after receiving a bulk of the blame following Philadelphia’s brutal exit from the playoffs in 2021. The franchise waited until nearly half the season was over, to eventually trade their beleaguered star to the Brooklyn Nets for James Harden.
However, once Simmons got to Brooklyn, fans and the media alike were still criticizing Simmons for failing to return to the court. Some said he was being “selfish” for sitting on the bench while the Nets were on the ropes against Boston in the playoffs and some even went as far as to say he’s using “mental health” issues as a scapegoat.
Former college basketball coach and current OutKick contributor Dan Dakich went on the record during his daily digital show Don’t @ Me, declaring that the media owes Simmons a huge apology after news broke Thursday that he needed and had successful surgery on his back.
“I bet you anything you want that you won’t see one apology from one media member towards Ben Simmons saying, ‘hey, look, I got it wrong’,” Dakich said Thursday. “I’m’ not saying that at the time they didn’t just go with the information they had, but what I am saying is now that you have this information and you got it wrong, isn’t it time to apologize?”
Dakich apologized himself for anything negative he may have said about Simmons, even admitting he forgets half of what he says on-air, attirbuting it to speaking for five hours a day between his shows for Outkick and 107.5 The Fan.
“If I did [rip Simmons] I certainly apologize. You got to be man enough to realize your wrong. Ben Simmons having to have surgery, I mean damn, he shouldn’t have played.”
One the main media personalities Dakich pointed out was ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who’s been one of the more vocal critics of the All-Star point guard ever since his problems with Philly.
After learning of the news and discussing it on First Take, Smith made it very clear that his stance has not changed on Simmons.
“I don’t believe whatever aliment he suffered is truly what prevented him from contributing 10-15 minutes a game. I know, ok, your having back surgery and that’s something you have to deal with, but I’m still at a loss,” Smith said on Thursday’s edition First Take. “I mean what the hell did you do, hit a pothole on the Jersey Turnpike? You didn’t play since last June 20th. How the hell did you get a back injury? I’m still trying to figure that out.”
The former #1 overall pick had back surgery to reduce pain from a herniated disc on Thursday and he said on his Instagram story that the procedure was a success. Simmons’s injury stems back two years ago in 2020 where he missed several games with back issues.
Simmons is expected to receiver from the surgery fully in the next 3-4 months.
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.