COVID’s Impact on Sports Radio

Every sport heard on radio went silent due to COVID-19.

Anyone who thinks that when the teams return to empty stadiums and eventually fewer paying fans that radio will recover is living in an alternate reality.

Sports radio accounts for a lot of money and it is now in jeopardy.  There are going to be many changes in how radio broadcasts and markets sports.

Teams are preparing now to make new demands of their broadcast partners.

Listeners are learning new habits that don’t bode well for radio stations.

Competitors are popping up that didn’t previously exist.

And companies like iHeart, Beasley and Entercom have a lot at stake in a segment that they are struggling to understand -- companies.

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Advertiser Complaints Against iHeart, Entercom & Beasley

I get that radio lives in an alternate reality that it so laced in happy talk that they have ignored the signs of a declining industry long before COVID-19.

But a major market advertiser is so irked, they have complained to iHeart, Entercom & Beasley for sitting on their hands and helping themselves before helping their clients.

They’re outing a lazy radio industry that assumes that when all of this over, these must-have advertisers will simply return.

This will open some eyes because it gets specific about what radio stations need to do to win back essential advertisers.

And it’s the opposite of what most radio stations are doing.

Local advertisers are madder than hell and they’re now vocally threatening to take their ad money elsewhere – consider this a wakeup call.

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Cumulus Hiding Extent of Their Financial Woes

According to Mary Berner the cancellation of “March Madness” killed Cumulus last quarter.

But that’s only part of it – she left something really, really important out.

And something is not quite right about their layoffs – publicly you hear one story, privately a totally different one.

Their stock has gone from $4.60 to the $3.40 range meaning investors are not buying what they are hearing from Cumulus management.

What could be so bad that Cumulus feels it has to conceal the truth?

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Entercom Eyeing 500 More Layoffs

David Field was forced to show his cards late last week when he conducted the second quarter earnings call for financial analysts.

Anyone who subscribes to this publication knows the tricks used by radio CEOs to cover up lack of performance and attempts to inspire confidence in their lagging companies.

Although this time Entercom covered a lot of shortcomings but couldn’t hide the need for more massive layoffs.

Threadbare markets just lost key employees and now we are able to do the math to get a reasonable idea of how many and who will be next. 

Field promised stakeholders upwards of $110 million in cost synergies when he closed the CBS Radio deal – Entercom is way beyond that now and still climbing.

Now that we know Entercom’s previous cost savings from RIFs and plugging in radio revenue projections for the rest of this year, we get a clear picture of how the next round will look.

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Nielsen Accused of Extortion by Non-Subscribers

Things are tough for the radio industry right now but if you listen to non-subscribers, they are doing more to hurt stations right now than help.

It’s a monopoly of audience estimates some say based on outdated methodology and technology.

What’s worse is that Nielsen is being propped up by consolidated groups – the bankrupt type – who somehow find the millions to renew even as they are firing people.

Now their tactics are becoming public.

How they try to force non-subscribers into paying up and their flexible rate card that objectors say bends only in their direction.

With local radio facing a year or more of battling back to even, financially-troubled owners are beginning to rethink Nielsen.

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