Learfield and IMG to merge

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Marty Bannister 1
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Learfield and IMG to merge

#1 Post by Marty Bannister 1 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:36 am

I would be interested to hear reaction to this news.....sure looks like a game changer:

https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals ... aping.html

Jon Chelesnik
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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#2 Post by Jon Chelesnik » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:09 am

A lot still has to happen after approval for the deal to actually be executed, including government approval.

If the merger does occur, it is reasonable that Tom Boman and Chris Ferris will work together in managing play-by-play talent at the member schools.

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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#3 Post by RadioPat1982 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:49 am

The deal will likely get through FCC and regulatory approval. They are much stricter on TV mergers than radio. I might be wrong but I think Westwood/Dial Global and Cumulus Networks did something like this back in 2011 or so.

It was interesting to read that school's are now leaving these managing radio partners. Has to make you ask where and what the future of radio is for D-I college teams in the future?

I do wonder how much of the radio listeners now watch on their phone or tablet when possible? Obviously you cant do this while driving but in about every other situation it is pretty easy to just log on to an app and watch.

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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#4 Post by Bob Rotruck » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:43 am

While the WatchESPN and other online television broadcasts are easy to access there is also a proliferarion of internet listening options that never existed in an earlier era.
I believe IMG manages all of the online radio stuff as well. Their channels on TuneIn are somewhat popular.
I asked a friend about his school's dedicated TuneIn channel because I wanted to learn how to set one up. He said, "I have no idea. IMG does all of that for us."

One assumes IMG also incorporates those audience numbers into their pitch when selling their product to a prospective client.
So the internet lostenership and ability to take it portable has to be to their advantage. Michigan football fans now able to listen from Arizona, etc etc.
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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#5 Post by RadioPat1982 » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:12 am

That is a great point Bob. I basically do one of two things myself. If I am away from home and I cant watch the game on TV I typically watch it on Watch ESPN or Fox/NBC Sports apps.

If I am driving or doing something I cant watch a screen, I typically will pull it up on TuneIn. I have my phone set to pair with my car Bluetooth and listen like that on the radio vs actually pulling up a station. I make a lot of hour plus drives doing video production and it is nice to not have to bounce around stations and affiliates. Plus with TuneIn, you actually get real numbers of listeners.

We have even moved our local high school football broadcast from radio to TuneIn. The local station wanted an unreal amount of money to "break programming" and cover football this season. In another words, they did not want to take the time to sell high school football and wanted the broadcasters to purchase the time. You can PM and I can get you some details on how to setup a TuneIn account.

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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#6 Post by Bob Rotruck » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:00 am

Thanks for the offer but I eventually figured it out...as evidenced by the channel "Phantoms Radio 24/7" available here! http://www.tun.in/sflyG

We also have the internet station synced to the team's "Phantoms 365" app which I think has more fans listening than our AM radio stations or TuneIn (just based on personal conversations with fans).
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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#7 Post by Bill Czaja » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:20 am

RadioPat1982 wrote:That is a great point Bob. I basically do one of two things myself. If I am away from home and I cant watch the game on TV I typically watch it on Watch ESPN or Fox/NBC Sports apps.

If I am driving or doing something I cant watch a screen, I typically will pull it up on TuneIn. I have my phone set to pair with my car Bluetooth and listen like that on the radio vs actually pulling up a station. I make a lot of hour plus drives doing video production and it is nice to not have to bounce around stations and affiliates. Plus with TuneIn, you actually get real numbers of listeners.

We have even moved our local high school football broadcast from radio to TuneIn. The local station wanted an unreal amount of money to "break programming" and cover football this season. In another words, they did not want to take the time to sell high school football and wanted the broadcasters to purchase the time. You can PM and I can get you some details on how to setup a TuneIn account.
That seems crazy. I would think, particularly if your market is outside the top 100, selling preps would be relatively easy for a station, particularly if it wanted to go after new sponsors. I've found selling baseball on radio to be very effective.

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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#8 Post by RadioPat1982 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:52 pm

Bill Czaja wrote: That seems crazy. I would think, particularly if your market is outside the top 100, selling preps would be relatively easy for a station, particularly if it wanted to go after new sponsors. I've found selling baseball on radio to be very effective.
Tell me about it Bill..... What sells better and easier than high school football in the south!

What is really happening in this situation is that these 3 stations part of a nationwide company that has no interest in small markets. So much so that there is only one single person that works in the building. Meaning zero sales people! They run all 3 stations on national programming and voice tracks from hundreds of miles away.

It is unfortunate but that is where a lot of radio stations owned by the larger groups are headed. I also noticed on their social media site they post the same crap every day that has nothing to do with the format. Probably a computer automating that as well.

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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#9 Post by Bill Czaja » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:53 pm

RadioPat1982 wrote:
Bill Czaja wrote: That seems crazy. I would think, particularly if your market is outside the top 100, selling preps would be relatively easy for a station, particularly if it wanted to go after new sponsors. I've found selling baseball on radio to be very effective.
Tell me about it Bill..... What sells better and easier than high school football in the south!

What is really happening in this situation is that these 3 stations part of a nationwide company that has no interest in small markets. So much so that there is only one single person that works in the building. Meaning zero sales people! They run all 3 stations on national programming and voice tracks from hundreds of miles away.

It is unfortunate but that is where a lot of radio stations owned by the larger groups are headed. I also noticed on their social media site they post the same crap every day that has nothing to do with the format. Probably a computer automating that as well.
Pat, whatever they're playing off the satellite up against primetime TV, it isn't being listened to. If they would offer the airtime at a reasonable rate, I bet you could sell the hell out of it. Same thing happened my last year in Beloit, so we went to a LPFM station. I am told by the current GM of the team that it is the most listened to programming on the station.

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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#10 Post by RadioPat1982 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:54 am

Bill that is pretty much my exact situation headed in to the football season this year.

The deal I had in place called for no payment on my end to the station but we split the inventory 50/50. I called the games and sent the feed (including commercials) back to the station. They got half the inventory and I got half the inventory. They did not even have to provide a board op since the start of the show and end is automated.

Coming in to this year they wanted me to purchase the air time for a rate that would make no sense to me. I said no, and contacted a new LPFM station. He was interested but wanted a larger amount than the regular FM station that had 10 times more the coverage area. I quickly declined that and explained at that rate he would never have anyone partner with him.

At the end of the day, I own my own equipment (audio and video) and we have an established crew that has been in place for over a decade now. We moved the broadcast over to the web. All the games on TuneIn, and audio simulcast to the local access TV station. Six of those games a full video broadcast with 4 cameras, graphics, and replay.

Most importantly no time purchased. Even the TuneIn feed was free for us since we partnered with a local online radio station who bought the licences. We traded out some of the commercial blocks in exchange.

The only thing I would do differently next season is spend a little bit more in the beginning of the season on marketing the games. Extra banners, social media ads and some advertising trades.

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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#11 Post by Bill Czaja » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:18 pm

I still have a hangup over web-only, not on the quality of broadcast, because the infrastructure is so improved over the last decade, but the financial end. I need a local broadcast venue to attract local listeners to attract local businesses. I suppose that's a completely different matter with preps.

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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#12 Post by PhilGiubileo » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:21 am

I still have a hangup over web-only, not on the quality of broadcast, because the infrastructure is so improved over the last decade, but the financial end. I need a local broadcast venue to attract local listeners to attract local businesses. I suppose that's a completely different matter with preps.
This is a good point--it's also market specific. In some markets, the cost of entry to be on terrestrial radio borders on ridiculous. When I worked in the Frontier League, from 2002-04, we paid the station roughly $100 a game for airtime, in suburban St. Louis. We were able to make money on this. Fast forward a few years and I'm in Fairfield County, CT - which is the NYC Nielsen Market - and the station that we wanted to use to air AHL hockey games wanted to charge something along the lines of $800 a game. Now around the same time in a smaller AHL market, I know that a team was charged around $10k for the season, or $125 a game.

I think if a team is paying $150 or less per game--they're in a decent position to sell ads and make some cash. Once you start to increase those per-game costs, you do run the risk of not being profitable, and you really need to figure out whether the expense is worth it. As it stands, most teams are driving viewers or listeners to the broadcast via social media (FB, Twitter, online ads) and not as much on more traditional methods. It's arguable to deduce that if you're using social media to market your broadcasts, then driving them to social media to view/listen etc., makes perfect sense. That, and then being able to quantify viewership/listenership, etc., to create packages that can be sold locally.

Take it one step further, and a team that invests $10k in a radio package can use that money to purchase broadcast equipment to run a viable 2 camera online video setup, and provided they have enough dedicated bandwidth, stream video online of home broadcasts at a minimum and use the same delivery system (YouTube for instance w/a slide instead of a video), and deliver an audio only solution for road games that is easily accessible via an app, laptop/desktop, or a viewers television if they have anything from a Chromecast/Fire Stick/xBox One/PS4/Apple TV/Roku, etc. Offer this for free to your fan base, and this is potentially a more marketable approach than radio for ad sales. However, I think this varies by market, and even by sport. Much easier IMO to broadcast a passable stream online for sports like basketball or hockey, where you stay w/one camera for a majority of the action vs. baseball, where you really should have at least 4 cameras (high home, CF, 1st and 3rd base side) to do something that looks good.
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Re: Learfield and IMG to merge

#13 Post by Bill Czaja » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:22 am

I always appreciated the way the owner of the RiverHawks looked at it: 1) It's a statement of the professionalism that you'll provide your fans. 2) It is a three-hour commercial for your brand.

I did encounter something similar to your NYC issues my last year in Beloit. New ownership had taken over the station cluster the preceding year, and the "offer" made to us for their first full calendar year was more than a six-fold increase. There's no way to make money. Fortunately, a LPFM was launching in Janesville, about 15 minutes away, and we moved the broadcasts to there. The Snappers are still on the air there, and the current GM tells me that station management says that is their largest-drawing programming.

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