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Is Sports Play-by-Play Good for Music Stations?

From Inside Radio:

Is CBS Radio giving up the Dallas Cowboys? KLUV lost money on an $8 million rights fee for the 2005 season (says the Dallas Morning News). We’re now very familiar with CBS exec Joel Hollander’s position on money-losing sports deals — cut ’em loose.

There’s a myth that goes as follows:

Buy rights to a big local team – even if your station plays music. Because Sports attracts men and our station attracts men and this means we’ll get a huge infusion of listeners and lots of new fans.

Yes and no.

In all the years I’ve studied this question, what is clear to me is this: When a music station airs sports games Cume and ratings rise on game day.


I have asked every station in this situation whether they can point to growth in Cume or Share OUTSIDE of game day, and the answer in every case is one of the following:

A) I don’t know B) No

Further, I have never seen any perceptual research support the notion that adding play-by-play to a music station is good, on the whole, for that station’s non-sports listenership or image. If anything, I’ve seen cases where a music station ends up standing for one thing only: The sports franchise.

So in other words, Play-by-Play on music stations is a fine idea if and only if it’s a money-maker in and of itself. Joel Hollander is absolutely right.

If you’re buying a franchise in the belief that the proverbial rising tide will lift all ships, that it will lift your numbers in non-sports dayparts and net you more revenue overall, don’t kid yourself.

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