There’s a trend in the broadcasting and the media world which might have many of us scared. More and more teams are axing the play-by-play role and opting to forgo any formal broadcast. It’s becoming popular in the lower levels of sports as teams look to trim the budget, citing “financial reasons” as to why the role got axed.
While it seems that money is the most common reasoning as to why a team or organization decides to eliminate the broadcasting role, there are certainly others. Regardless of the reasoning, if it happens to us, we have to ask ourselves some questions.
- Is it really finances? In my opinion, maybe. Sometimes we just get caught in an inevitable storm of bad news. A school or team is sinking and looking for any way possible to bail our their boat, and we’re the casualty. If that’s the case, there’s not much we can do now or could have done to prevent the bad news. However, there is a difference between needing to save money and leadership lacking perceived value in a broadcast. The tough part with tracking successes and failures with media departments and broadcasting is that there’s no direct way to tell if it’s making a team any money. It’s not like merchandise or ticket sales that have a firm dollar amount attached. So how do we combat that in today’s ever-increasing “big-data” and “show me the numbers world”? By providing value in other ways. Sponsorships, coverage by local media outlets, and fan interaction are all proof of value. Do you have a steady listener base? Do you run a program that local businesses know about and respect? Do you have a reputation that’s professional and entertaining? If people know about you and your work, and like it, you’re bringing value to the airwaves. These are just some of the things that management needs to be aware of so that they can accurately assess the job you and your department are doing.
- Are the decision-makers in touch with the broadcast? So how do you relay that value to the decision-makers? How do you show them that what you’ve created is indirectly helping the bottom line? Well, this is one of those things which can be hard to get done, but it’s so crucial to a broadcast. Do your best to get management and ownership to tune into a few broadcasts throughout the season. Some do this willingly because they have a vested interest or are sports fans in general, but not all are that way. If they’re able to experience your program through the eyes and ears of a fan or sponsor, they can see the value you’ve created and it might shed some light on the importance of the broadcast.
- Am I prepared to detail my importance? Now that your management team has listened to your broadcast a few times, you have to be prepared to talk about it. At this very moment, can you detail how your broadcast helps bring in listeners/viewers? Do you know how you’re indirectly helping? Can you mention the two or three new sponsors the team has signed on who mentioned they love listening to the games on the radio? This could be the most important part of saving the booth. These are all non-monetary forms of value that might not be immediately obvious to people who make 99% of their decisions based solely on dollars, even if they have listened to your call recently. Be ready to discuss that and explain that just because your sportscasts don’t have a tangible dollar amount that is attached, doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable and don’t bring in the cash.
In my opinion, teams who choose to eliminate a broadcaster or airing are making a crucial mistake. Broadcasts are not only advertisements for the team and various sponsors who pay to get on, but it’s also a way to stay in touch with fans. It makes the team more accessible to the masses and improves the team’s brand simply by coming off as more professional. Even so, there will be teams who choose to crop out the broadcast position for whatever reason. Do your best to prevent that decision NOW, by remembering that you’re on the air to call the game AND sell your team. Make it a broadcast that’s enjoyable, professional, and entertaining. It doesn’t matter what platform you air on or what equipment you use. If you are accurate and likable, your value will be apparent to both sponsors and management. If you can check all those boxes, you stand the best chance of avoiding getting axed.