What Radio can Learn from Major League Baseball
By Ken Benson
Another Major League Baseball season is underway, and Baseball is continuing to tinker with the game in its efforts to appeal to younger fans. MLB has the oldest fans among the major sports, with an average age of 57, according to a 2017 survey by Sports Business Journal. The average NBA, NHL, and NFL fans are 42, 49, and 50, respectively.
For years radio formats have faced their own age-related challenges; the New/Talk format wants to attract younger listeners, the Classic Rock station wants to avoid aging out of the 25-54 demo and the CHRs always want to perform better 25-54.
Today, Radio is in a similar position as Baseball. Our time spent listening is steadily declining and usage among young adults is deteriorating. The difference between Radio and Baseball is Baseball’s willingness to challenge the status quo and experiment with many aspects of game to create a faster, more action-packed game.
- Baseball has brought back two changes it made last season. Doubleheader games are only seven innings instead of nice, and extra innings start with a runner on second base.
- In attempt reduce strikeouts and create more offense, Baseball is cracking down on illegal substances pitchers use to put more spin on the ball.
- The experiments in the minor leagues are even more dramatic. These include a pitch clock, limiting defensive shifts to allow for more hits, and limited pickoff attempts to encourage stolen base attempts, and an automated strike zone with “robot umps”.
If Radio were to follow Baseball’s lead and have the courage to change its game, imagine what a CHR station may sound like tomorrow:
- Sponsorships instead of 10 or more minutes of ads an hour
- YouTube stars to host shows instead of DJs
- Fear of Missing Out Stunts (like CHR use to do).
- A Tinder Meet up Show
- Unique content created for Instagram, YouTube and Tik Tok
- Exclusive chats and in-depth unfiltered conversations via Clubhouse
- Stand for a greater purpose or social cause
Audiences will continue to seek out the best content regardless of the platform but only if we are willing to build our Field of Dreams.
Ken Benson is an award-winning contemporary radio programmer Today, Ken is a co-founder and partner in P1 Media Group, providing insights and strategies to leading media companies around the world. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org