Radio’s Biggest Star: Baseball

| March 27, 2017

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Do the math.  For 6 months when habitual listening dips as listeners vacation and otherwise alter their lives, baseball brings:

  • long-TSL tune-in (“vertical maintenance” in ratings speak), to…
  • 162 three+ hour shows (“horizontal maintenance”), by…
  • people who otherwise might not cume the station, in…
  • what would otherwise be fringe evening/late-night/weekend hours,
  • many of which are suspenseful, and which are loaded with…
  • inventory that sells-without-numbers.

And now that games are available elsewhere, affiliated AM/FM stations need to play defense to exploit the franchise.  (Pictured at right is HC at his beloved Fenway Park.)

Games can be heard elsewhere.

Did you get this Email over the weekend?  From Verizon, Subject line: “Baseball is back.  Stream live games, all season long, with MLB.TV.”

That thing-in-your-pocket-we-used-to-call “a phone,” has been the new transistor radio for years.  So smart stations go-there, by streaming, and working on-demand (podcasting) aggressively.  Now, that thing one-ups radio, with video.  “With on-the-go live streaming from MLB.TV, you won’t miss a moment of the action.”

So take ownership of your team every way you can.  For example: Whatever you say on-hour signs your station’s name.  Lots of stations I hear squander those 10 powerful seconds by telling me that the news “STARTS NOW,” aping TV imaging.  What a waste.  That’s like writing “banana” on the yellow peel.

Instead, take your station’s Reach + Frequency out for a spin… 

On-hour, do team-N-time.

Heaps of PPM data tell us that the most efficient way to grow Share is by adding TSL, specifically more Occasions of Listening from listeners-who-listen-to-our-station-most, so called “First Preference” or “P1” listeners.  Because games invite tune-in, baseball also mines P2s and P3s.  And not just for the game.

Most baseball stations are news/talk AMs, and smart news/talk AMs overtly invite top-of-hour tune-in, “FOR A QUICK UPDATE, EVERY HOUR, THROUGHOUT YOUR BUSY DAY.”  So that on-hour ID is beachfront real estate.  Give it to The Game.  So, beginning a week-ahead, today for some, my baseball stations use on-hour to count-down to Opening Day.  As The Beatles sang, “It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.”

Then, beginning Opening Day, use on-hour to plug the next game who-N-when.  

In-game, tout mornings.

Dumbest use of in-game ID positions: To tell listeners you have the game…the ultimate “banana” on the peel.

If our goal is more TSL, by adding Occasions, what else can you invite fans to hear?

  • Clue: Because many games are at night, many listeners’ next Occasion is morning drive.
  • Clue: When it rains, everyone gets wet.

So we use in-game IDs to plug weather in AM Drive, an image radio needs to bolster, with weather so accessible via smartphone apps.

Sales: Don’t get stale.

Right now, sponsors are stoked to be associated with the team.  In Spring Training, every team is in first place.

Mid-summer, as the Trade Deadline looms, some teams are goners, which is tough enough.  So the last thing we need is to sound asleep-at-the-wheel still airing in-game spot copy that sounded cool in early April: “BASEBALL IS BACK!”

Reps: For your tickler file: New copy in May.

The bottom line?  Yours!  Treat The Game like a jewel, not just a feed.

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke, and meet HC at Talkers 2017 in New York City on June 2.

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Category: Advice