Tag Archives: NFL

The Big Game’s Ad Clutter

80During this year’s football season, viewership to the NFL games was down. A lot of reasons were offered as to the reason why. I’m sure you have your own theories. But when it comes to the Super Bowl – “America’s party Sunday” – surely that would again show an audience increase. It didn’t.

M*A*S*H

For many years, the finale of the TV show M*A*S*H was the most watched television show, until the year that a Super Bowl would surge ahead. For a couple of years, each year the Super Bowl of that year would beat the viewership of the past year and ad rates would go up right along with the viewership. Ad clutter too.

$5 Million per 30-Second Ad

This year FOX trumpeted that it sold Super Bowl LI half-minute ads for an astounding $5 Million per ad.

Viewership to the fifty-first Super Bowl game was, like the rest of this year’s NFL season, down.

We have to go back to 2012 to see an audience this small for football’s big game.

Game Stats

Now don’t get me wrong, the NFL is still the 800-pound sports franchise to be reckoned with when it comes to broadcast. But nothing goes up forever and we may be seeing a peak.

The average professional football game lasts three hours and twelve minutes.

The average NFL game will air more than 100 ads.

The average time the ball is in play is 11 minutes.

Does this seem out of balance to you?

Super Bowl LI Ad Clutter

Media Life magazine featured this headline: “Big winner in this year’s Super Bowl: Ad clutter – It’s second-most cluttered game ever, with 51 minutes and 30 seconds”

If you’re in the ad-supported media business, this has to be concerning to you.

Ad rates can’t keep going up, ad clutter going up and audience viewership going down and expect to stay in business.

In a scholarly paper authored by Auburn University’s Herbert Jack Rotfeld he writes, “the increasing advertising to editorial ratio is causing audience inattention and consumer complaints.” And that “more effective advertising would mean that there would be less of it.”

“Abuse of audiences by intrusive advertising lowers the effectiveness of the entire communications form.”

Radio’s Ad Clutter

About a year ago this month I wrote an article entitled “Are We Killing the Golden Goose”  In that article I compared the story of Aesop’s fable of the goose that laid the golden eggs to what I saw going on with the swelling advertising inventory in radio.

Radio is like a golden goose. It has the ability to deliver unlimited revenues to the bottom line for its owners. Having an FCC license was for many years considered akin to having a license to print money.

Radio is the #1 Reach & Frequency Medium

In June 2015 my good friend – and my very first Arbitron representative when I started managing radio in a rated market – Pierre Bouvard would announce that radio was now America’s #1 REACH MEDIUM.

Radio had always been America’s number one frequency medium (the ability to reach a listener with the same message multiple times) but now it beat TV and all other ad-supported media in reaching the most people too.

That’s BIG!

It’s why I’m concerned about ad clutter.

No Ad Blocking in Radio

Radio, unlike online and TV, doesn’t have ad blocking. Online ad blocking is epidemic. TV has the dreaded DVR that allows viewers to fast-forward through the ads.

Radio doesn’t have to deal with these issues, yet.

But that doesn’t mean it can abuse its audience.

Podcasting

Everywhere I turn I see that podcasting is increasing in audience size. But what I’m also reading is how effective the ads in podcasts are. Could the reason be that a single sponsor usually supports podcasts and the ad is often delivered by the very voice that also creates the content that the listener tuned in to hear?

Stephen Covey

Covey wrote in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” “when people fail to respect the P/PC Balance in their use of physical assets in organizations, they decrease organizational effectiveness and often leave others with dying geese.”

The bottom line is the future of radio will be determined by the vision of the people leading the radio industry.

Don’t kill the goose.

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Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

Get The Led Out

mrr_peabody_canvasLed for Lunch (an hour of Led Zeppelin music) pre-dates a lot of things, not the least of which is my iPhone. But this radio programming staple along with “Two-fer Tuesdays” and “Million Dollar Weekends” (in a billion dollar world) remain on so many radio stations. It’s like Mr. Peabody’s Way-Back Machine broke down in 1972.

My iPod contains a large variety of music. You would probably toss your cookies if you had to listen to it. Variety has always meant something different to each individual. That’s why radio stations that promote “the best variety” are usually wrong with a wide variety of listeners. Another worn-out, if ever appropriate, positioning phrase.

Howard Stern and Adele have a lot in common. They’re one-of-a-kind. They both understand they are not for everyone and they don’t care. We are attracted to people like that. Successful radio stations are like that.

When CBS lost Howard Stern to Sirius Radio, it suffered a meltdown. When Comedy Central lost Jon Stewart, it didn’t. Why? Comedy Central seized the opportunity to move in a new direction by attracting younger demographics, as well as increasing its black and Hispanic audience. It also read the tea leaves and made the show more accessible on the social media platforms. The result is the show is doing better than Stewart with where the “cut-the-cord” millennial’s are getting their media fix. Radio needs to embrace this changing audience usage pattern and have fulltime people paying as much attention to IoT (Internet of Things) as they do their over-the-air product. (Personally, I love both the new Daily Show & Nightly Shows and they are becoming a habit.)

Speaking of habits, they take a long time to cultivate, but once you get people in the habit of doing something, they aren’t quick to change. (It’s the reason I publish this blog every week. I’m trying to get you in the habit of expecting it and reading it.) Too many radio operators, in the name of budget cuts, eliminated the very reason many listeners had the habit of tuning into their radio station. Personalities are what differentiate a radio station and create the habit of daily listening.

Personalities and radio stations that are part of the fabric of the community will be found on every radio, including the new digital dashboards appearing on the latest vehicles. If people want what you create, they will find you.

The art of the tease has changed in a world with smartphone access to Google. If you tease a viewer or a listener, you better be the only place they can get the pay-off or you have effectively sent the person packing for another source.

Demographics are so yesterday. Psychographics are today. I like many of the same forms of entertainment that my grand kids like. (They also probably can operate my smartphone better than I can.) If age was ever a good way to define listeners or viewers, we definitely know it isn’t now. Pick a tribe you want to super-serve and then do it relentlessly.

What should you focus on most? Everything. The devil’s in the details and no one’s focused on the details anymore. All great entertainment is laser focused on the details. Go see a Cirque du Soleil performance if you need an example to emulate or watch the coaching staff instead of the playing field during a college or NFL football game.

Nothing stays the same. You’re either getting better or getting worse.

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Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Uncategorized

If Radio Ran the NFL

Full disclosure, I’m not a sports person. But sports is ubiquitous in our world and in America, the NFL is the top sport. The NFL’s Super Bowls are TV’s most watched programs with the season finale of M*A*S*H being the first non-Super Bowl show to appear in the Top Ten most watched television programs.

The NFL is made up of people. Head coaches, assistant coaches, sales people, support people and of course, the players on the field. Radio is also made up of people. General managers, program directors, sales managers, sales people, support people and of course the personalities on the air.

Team brands are strongly associated with each particular team. If I say “Eagles” you immediately know that I’m talking about the NFL’s Philadelphia franchise. If I say “Cowboys” you again know that I’m talking about the NFL’s Dallas franchise. But if I say “Kiss FM” you really don’t know which radio station in which city I’m referring to. If I say “Jack” you again have no idea of which radio station in which city I’m referring to. While this may not have been a problem back in the day, today the Internet brings all radio together on one platform.

When I was growing up, each major city had at least two Top40 radio stations that would be engaged in a battle for the best. What made radio exciting at that point in time was that each of those radio stations were unique and very much in tune with their city of license.

While many radio folks would dis “Drake Radio” I fondly remember enjoying WRKO in Boston, CKLW in Windsor-Ontario, WOR-FM in New York City and KHJ in Los Angeles (via air checks). Yes they all had those incredible Johnny Mann jingles, but they all had very unique air talent and were tweaked to the city they served. They were the same, but different.

Each radio station was a special and unique culture of people. Culture trumps best practices.

Radio is starved for new ideas. They won’t come from inside radio. The next big thing is happening right now in another field. What it will take is for someone to see it and adapt it for radio.

Henry Ford is said to have seen the meat packers of Chicago disassemble a cow in a line where each worker cut out one section of the cow and adapted the model to create his assembly line for building cars.

The great coaches of the NFL are searching far and wide for new ideas. They are bringing in academics and scientists to learn how to make their players better; both on and off the field. When is the last time you heard of radio making that kind of investment in their players? By that I mean the air personalities and the people who coach them; the program directors.   When was the last new programming idea created for radio?

Remember when a new radio station format premiered back in the day? The launch was exciting and the day it was turned on, everything was in place. The air personalities often had been practicing the format off-the-air before the day it premiered. Today, new formats premiere in pieces. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Why do radio companies repeatedly do this?

This manner of premiering formats would be like the NFL getting a new stadium, a new logo, and new uniforms and on game day having everything laying on the grid iron and telling the fans we will be hiring the players in the next 60-90 days. But radio does this all the time.

Just like the NFL players on the field, the radio air talents are a vital part of the product.

If radio ran the NFL, they wouldn’t have the coach standing on the sidelines, he’d be in the huddle playing the quarterback position, just like radio’s program directors are on-the-air; often anchoring morning drive.

The reason that the NFL hasn’t adopted radio’s model for operating their game is simple. Their model has made them the most watched and listened to sport in America. Maybe radio should be adapting the NFL model for running its industry.

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