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March 10, 2020

The Coming Sports Apocalypse

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Sports has never witnessed anything like September 2020. If all goes as planned, NFL Football will be playing regular season games at the same time as the NBA Basketball playoffs, NHL Hockey playoffs, Major League Baseball and NCAA Football.  September 2020 may attempt to squeeze over 5,000 hours of professional and collegiate sports coverage into a single month.

To the action-starved fan who has been without their favorite teams for months, this will be like giving a thirsty man a case of Gatorade and ordering him to “Drink it all!”

SportsTalk radio stations, presently fumbling to fill 24 hours a day with programming content that can’t reference last night’s loss or tonight’s chance to rebound, will be overflowing with conversation topics and play-by-play coverage.  

It’ll be Sports Heaven, unless you’re an advertiser.

There are only so many minutes of advertising (14-20) a SportsRadio station or network can cram into one hour before programming content becomes unlistenable.  And radio stations and networks will be testing that limit in an effort to recoup some of their lost sales from spring.

Advertisers will be shocked by higher-than-usual prices, as demand for inventory boosts the price of air time to record levels.  Beyond in-game announcements and sponsorships of everything from the Play of the Week Replay to Studio Naming Rights, there will be a mad scramble to lock in schedules before the advertising inventory runs out.

Those taking a wait-and-see attitude to plan their fall sports advertising, may end up outside the stadium looking in.  It’s also likely that some advertisers that book schedules at discounted rates may find themselves “bumped” when a national advertiser shows up willing to pay double what they’ve offered for that same air time.

So what are the smartest moves an advertiser can make right now? 

Start planning.  Allocate budgets and determine which teams and which advertising assets are the best fits to reach the target audience.  

Assess risk.  Is it wiser to lock in a schedule guaranteed to run at a premium rate?  Or does it make more sense to negotiate lower rates and take the risk of getting bumped when someone offers to pay more?

Beyond conventional advertising, explore which station programming features can be sponsored, enabling a brand to elevate its status and be more memorable.

Above all, start planning now to survive and thrive from the coming sports apocalypse.  Game on.

Mark Lipsky is CEO and Creative Director at The Radio Agency.  You can reach him at Mark@TheRadioAgency.com.