Amazon is dropping its 11-month-old sports talk programming on the Prime Video platform. Joe Lucia writes about the news (originally reported by The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch) at Awful Announcing. The programming streams from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Amazon was mum about the reason for shutting it down, but as Lucia notes in his piece, “there’s so much competition in the sports talk radio space.” Read his story here.
By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
Welcome to the NAB edition of Pending Business.
Wait, not that NAB. I am talking about the NAB that affects every manager and seller in the broadcast business, especially radio. This NAB is all about Never Assume the Basics.
Timing could not be better. Borrell and Associates just released a report that validates the Covid pandemic-driven changes in the local advertising marketplace. The shifts are so big, they most likely will change the ad world for a long time. The report shows the measurable local advertising marketplace is now at approximately $143 billion dollars. If you believe the numbers in the report, 67% of local ad dollars are placed in digital media advertising. Simple math says 33% of local ad dollars are now split, radio, TV, all print, outdoor and direct mail. Now that is a genuine showstopper!
These numbers are a tough pill to swallow, especially for those of us who remember the days when (print) newspapers were the king of the hill of local ad dollars. Whether you accept the numbers or not, the trend is your friend, and no manager or seller wants to be left behind. The major drivers behind this seismic shift in local ad dollars are the giants of social/digital media. Members of what TV personality Jim Cramer calls the FANG set – Facebook, Amazon, Google – you know what I am talking about. The shift in local dollars happened and continues happening right before our collective ears and eyes. Some of us are changing with the flow, others are still satisfied just reading a competitive radio monitor report during the Monday morning sales meeting.
Let us pause right here and get back to the danger of assuming the basics. You know what assuming can do, so let us regroup. Zoom back and take a treetop view of how you reconcile the basics of:
— local ad budgets
— sales prospecting
What’s changed in your approach to prospecting? What NEW information and new businesses are you targeting? How has your competitive information flow adjusted to reflect local market changes? What is the newest package concept in your sales arsenal? Are you up to speed on the newer social and digital media initiatives in your local market?
Make no mistake, I am not advocating breaking the foundation. Yet we cannot ignore market dynamics. Some companies are driving change and growing in the digital/social media ad space, while others are slower. The great Teddy Roosevelt said “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!” Leadership is never easy. When it comes to sales, it should be a constant goal. Do not let anyone push you out of the way.
Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: Steve@Lapcomventures.com. Steve Lappa will be moderating the “Generating Revenue” panel at TALKERS 2023 on Friday, June 2 at Hofstra University.
iHeartMedia appoints Jon Kurland to the EVP of business affairs and chief entertainment counsel position. The company says that in this new role, Kurland will lead iHeartMedia’s business affairs team and focus on strategic deals and relationships with the company’s podcast, music, entertainment and new media partners. He will be responsible for business and legal affairs across the company’s divisions including multiplatform assets, digital audio and tentpole events. In addition, Kurland will oversee the company’s entertainment legal functions across podcasts, live events, and new media initiatives as well as its music licensing strategy, including maintaining and renewing all music industry licenses for iHeartRadio’s digital services and performance licenses through PRO agencies. iHeartMedia EVP and general counsel Jordan Fasbender says, “Jon’s vast experience and dealmaking skills in the audio industry will be incredibly valuable as we continue to innovate and expand our partnerships and opportunities that leverage and enhance iHeartMedia’s position as the leading audio company in the U.S.” Kurland joins iHeartMedia from Amazon, where he served as senior corporate counsel in the Global Media & Entertainment group.
Las Vegas-based, nationally syndicated talk radio personality Wayne Allyn Root tells TALKERS magazine his latest book, The Great Patriot BUY-cott Book, is doing very well on several Amazon book charts, and he says talk radio is the main reason why. He says, “My new book is out for 48 hours and already it’s a #1 bestseller in many categories at Amazon. And to what do I credit my success at going so quickly to #1? Talk radio. In past 48 hours I’ve been a guest on 30 talk radio shows… plus of course, I’ve promoted my book on my own national radio show. Talk radio works!” Root is an ardent Donald Trump supporter who says the former president linked to his recent opinion piece titled, “Democrats Want to Indict & Arrest President Trump. They Want a War? Let’s Give it to Them” in one of his recent posts on Truth Social.
As reported by NPR’s own David Folkenflik, the public radio corporation is announcing it will trim its workforce by about 10%. NPR CEO John Lansing revealed the plans to staffers in a memo. Folkenflik reports that the laying off of at least 100 staffers is due to “the erosion of advertising dollars, particularly for NPR podcasts, and the tough financial outlook for the media industry more generally.” Lansing writes, “When we say we are eliminating filled positions, we are talking about our colleagues – people whose skills, spirit and talents help make NPR what it is today. This will be a major loss.” The story goes on to state, “On an annual budget of roughly $300 million, Lansing says, revenues are likely to fall short by close to $30 million, although that gap could reach $32 million.” Folkenflik notes, “The layoffs are in keeping with an increasingly grim landscape for media companies over recent months. Vox Media cut jobs by 7%; Gannett and Spotify by 6%. The Washington Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, eliminated its Sunday magazine and a handful of other jobs. After becoming part of Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN cut hundreds of jobs and killed off its brand-new streaming service, CNN+.” Read Folkenflik’s piece here.
By Holland Cooke
How hot is podcasting? The topic dominated a CES session billed in broader terms: “The Disruption: Media, Platforms & Advertising.” Panelists – executives from social media, major content brands, and radio mega-groups – also discussed “linear” (live) programming and streaming video. But all kept coming back to podcasting, which iHeartMedia CMO Gayle Troberman characterized as “exploding, driving massive growth in audio.”
Not unexpected, since her company is a major player. But, from the other side of the equation, World Wrestling Entertainment SVP Craig Stimmel acknowledges that, post-pandemic, “habits have changed as to where to go” for media; so “we want to make sure our content is everywhere.” His stars are among celebrities whom podcasting connects with fans in what Troberman describes as “live, human, unscripted conversation with people you come to know;” particularly welcome post-pandemic-shutdown. “The more isolated and alone people feel, the more audio delivers intimacy.”
It’s not a radio show
Every panelist spoke of “authenticity,” rather than the slick, polished texture of traditional AM/FM programming. SXM Media SVP Lizzie Widhelm challenges broadcasters: “How can we let go of our playbook, and walk away from norms that have been comfy-cozy?”
“More creators coming into audio than ever before” from politics, sports, and other walks of life, “to engage more deeply.” Audacy CMO Paul Suchman says that delivers advertisers “super-relevant, contextually relevant” places to tell their stories. So “this is a medium that deserves GREAT creative,” not just audio of a TV spot. “Advertising that gets ‘inserted’” doesn’t work as well as “the deep human connection” of podcaster’s very personal delivery. Thus “the lowest ad-skipping rates of any media.”
Just as music streams offer lots more variety than safe-list FMs, spoken-word podcasting is a topical cornucopia compared to talk radio’s largely political fare.
And panelists ticked-off other advantages podcasts offer advertisers:
- “Quicker and much less-expensive production than video.”
- “Lower CPM” ad rates, increasingly attractive as recession likely looms.
- “Really young, and diverse audiences coming into audio in a big way.”
- “The audiences you’re not getting on TV anymore.”
“Voice has always been how humans communicate”
Troberman describes the iHeart app Talkback feature, which listeners use to send messages stations play, a tool some of my client stations have built-into their apps.
And this interactivity isn’t just a media thing. Audacy’s Suchman mentioned how drivers now converse with Cadillac’s state-of-the-art dashboard: “The next phase of computing will be voice-driven.” Yet – accustomed as we have become to dealing with supermarket self-checkout and other robots almost everywhere – the “intimacy,” “authenticity,” and “diversity” panelists speak of suggest that, as iHeart’s Troberman reckons, “the future of voice is the future of two-way communication via audio.”
I’ve been reporting from CES all this week for TALKERS…and for you. You can download five 60-second radio reports at HollandCooke.com.
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is the author of “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books; and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features “Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins.” HC is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke
Digital content platform LiveOne announces that “as part of its focus on generating cash from operations on a consolidated basis, (it) is implementing additional cost and expense reductions from both operations and corporate overhead, which is anticipated to increase the previously implemented annual cost savings to a total of over $30 million in its fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. On December 29, 2022, the company revealed that Courtside Group, Inc. (dba PodcastOne) has filed an S-1 with the SEC for its planned spin-out and special dividend to LiveOne’s stockholders of record on January 16, 2023. The company says that PodcastOne is expected to record revenue of $25 million for the first nine months of fiscal 2023 ending December 31, 2022.
LiveOne adds, “PodcastOne’s proprietary internal Content Management System allows creators and producers to track metrics about shows on an episode-by-episode basis. CMS is the platform where podcast episodes are uploaded, RSS feeds are created and distributed to listening platforms, and the listening data is analyzed and displayed in a dashboard for the creators/producers to see. This fully owned and operated enterprise CMS rivals other paid platforms such as Megaphone (Spotify-owned), Art19 (Amazon-owned) and SimpleCast (SiriusXM/Pandora-owned). The CMS’ day-to-day operation and maintenance is managed by a vendor we contract with and is constantly being updated to be a best-in-class system. LiveOne remains committed to spinning-out PodcastOne as a separate public company to be listed on a national exchange. In connection with such spin-out, LiveOne has moved the record date to Jan. 16, 2023 for PodcastOne’s special dividend to LiveOne’s stockholders of record. In addition, LiveOne intends to explore spinning-out SlackerOne as a separate public company during its 2024 fiscal year.”