All Sports Cable Channels Benefit From Radio Simulcasts

On the heels of ESPN’s announcing it will simulcast “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd on ESPNU networks, its time for all sports networks to visit the simulcast idea. I don’t have ratings number to support my argument, but regional RSN’s and national sports networks certainly lack enough fresh content for a 24-hour cycle and radio simulcasts are cheap alternatives to reruns.

Notably YES Network broadcasts Mike and the Mad Dog (pre-break up) each afternoon, ESPN2 simulcasts its Mike and MIke in the Morning show, while MSNBC showed Imus in the Morning for years, all with varying levels of success. For an ESPN, it creates a deeper interaction with its suite of multimedia offerings. The Worldwide Leader will not necessarily gain new fans, however current viewers increase engagement. Listeners are more likely to watch TV at home in the mornings than tune in on radio, so the show attracts an entirely new group of users that may have watched reruns of Sportscenter all morning. More than ratings, the impact is felt on the website, which receives tremendous interaction via emails and video views.

Mike and the Mad Dog’s YES partnership took advantage of a different benefit, bringing a local show to a national audience. Over the past five years, the show started receiving callers from all over the country. Former New Yorker’s came back to the show, new viewers tuned in out of curiosity. The show certainly lured more viewers than a daily showing of Yankees Classics, the same ten games played over and over again.

Simulcasts allow for deeper sponsor integration. On ESPN, the show’s have more inventory and exposure to offer sponsors. YES’ approach creates new sponsorship opportunities for the show, which they have taken advantage of with overlay since the tandem will only reference WFAN sponsors on the air. Simulcasts open the door for digital deals and cross-platform integration. Deeper viewer/listener engagement, enhanced sponsorship opportunities, and wider public exposure.

In NY, MSG has no reason not to simulcast something. ESPN putting The Herd on ESPNU is a perfect match with Cowherd’s devotion and knowledge of college football and its niche following. Jim Rome has his ESPN show, but many more will tune in to see his radio show. Numerous other local personalities could benefit from regional exposure. RSN’s should consider replacing the third replay of last night’s game or 6 hours of reruns of the sports news show with a live radio show that delivers fresh content. Yesterday’s news won’t cut it in 2008 and beyond.


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