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Friday Four-Pack 7.21.23
WEEI ratings bump. An awesome idea for sports. Big issues loom for MA sportsbooks
Sports in the morning, but all the time.
Hear me out.
I’m editing this Four-Pack with the Round 2 of the British Open as my background. We are a Brian Harman newsletter so we’re really enjoying it at the moment.
And like all sports in the morning, it’s awesome.
I get it, The
British Open Open Championship is different. But we have a big sample size of sports of any kind being great in the morning—golf, soccer, NFL Football. MLB has embraced it with their Sunday Morning Baseball - they’ve started games as early as 11:35AM EST. But every league should be doing this. And even earlier.
10:30 AM at the latest.
The NHL Sunrise Skate
The NBA Basketball Brunch
The NFL can call it whatever they want because people are going to watch and bet on it no matter what.
Saturday morning probably works best, except for maybe the NFL. The games are over at noon so you’re not going heads up against college football.
Trust me, kids are up early. Do you want them on YouTube watching, probably for the 16th time, that episode of Mr. Beast where he hides a million-dollar check in a watermelon? No! You want them in the loge section of the TD Garden taking in Bruins and Panthers. Or watching Jamison Coyle on the desk of the NHL Network joking about how early it is for hockey.
Assuming a decent TV sponsor, you’d get massive social media buzz doing this, even three or four times a year.
Fans could fly in from other cities on a Friday and be out Saturday after the game.
You can market to families/kids if you want to, go all ‘minor league baseball’, but it’s not a must.
The possibilities are endless!
Now, there are some issues to iron out. There’s the whole selling alcohol in the morning thing. But as I write this, it occurs that there are lots of PGA Events that start early. I’m guessing you can get a beer at 10:30 in Cromwell, CT for the Travelers if you want?
And I guess we’d have to get the players on board. That might be an issue.
But it’s 2023. Did you read our buddy Alex Reimer? GEN Z HATES SPORTS!!!
The players need to help get the kids back into professional sports. And it all starts with sports in the morning.
Let’s get to the rest of the Four-Pack.
On a WEEI ratings bump…
The spring radio ratings for Boston came out as we were packing for Opening Day at Saratoga last week. 98.5 The Sports Hub dominated with men aged 25-54, finishing #1 again with an 18.9. Rival WEEI - my former employer - came home 5th (5.4).
Where WEEI saw a bump was mornings, up from a 5.7 in the winter to an 8.6 this spring. Still far behind Toucher and Rich (21.4) but for sure a bump.
The WEEI morning bump was capped off with a June that saw their rating at 10.2 (Toucher and Rich did a 14.7 for June).
Here’s The Greg Hill Show pretending to not care about it by bringing it up on the air.
I write about this for a few reasons today.
First, it’s comical to compare any rating the The Greg Hill show is doing to Mut and Callahan (the aforementioned “previous morning show).
I mean, you took Greg off of another station you owned in WAAF, a competitor to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and moved him. So you sacrificed those ratings by bringing them over to WEEI. Then at the end of the year, you sold WAAF.
Second, Mut and Callahan had a 10-month run. Some would say that was 10 months too long.
I’d say that for conservatively six of those months, the station knew they were going to move on from Gerry and bring Greg over. I was oblivious to it at the time but a few people I trust have since told me Greg knew about the move and was talking about it openly.
That’s not an excuse - the show wasn’t great and I was a big part of that. Lots of mistakes. But any comparison now should be made to Kirk and Callahan, a show with long-term success in the ratings. Not a show that was on air for less than a year. Greg has been on WEEI for four years now. And 30 years in Boston. Pretty big sample size, no?
As far as the bump, my former boss Mike Thomas talked to the Boston Globe for a story about the Greg Hill Show bump. From Chad Finn’s story
Mike Thomas, senior vice president and market manager for WEEI’s parent company, Audacy Boston, attributed some of the progress to the Hill show’s in-person engagement with its listeners.
During the spring, Hill and the show’s co-hosts — which include Jermaine Wiggins, Courtney Cox, and Chris Curtis — broadcast from seven different locations on that it called its “New England Road Show.’’
Hill is an expert schmoozer, and Thomas said in an email that he thought the road show was “a point of differentiation for us … Greg is great at it.
“Sometimes, when you go out and do events and try to grow your audience one handshake at a time, you don’t see the results in Nielsen. This time we did and the station benefitted.”
The Nielsen rating system is so wacky that a couple of meters going your way can mean a HUGE difference. Last time I checked there was something like 1000 meters in Boston and those determine the entire ratings book.
I’ve just never heard/read about live shows being a Nielsen booster.
It seems much more likely that Fred Toucher missing time with personal issues in the spring, in addition to the Toucher and Rich drama that we’ve written about in the MutStack archives these last few months, pushed listeners over to WEEI. Right? But as their former boss, Thomas probably can’t say that.
Fred is back now and if things go return to normal for that show, do they get those listeners and ratings points back? I’d bet on that before I’d bet on live remotes fueling a sustained ratings boost.
WEEI had a big bump last fall. They did not sustain it. June saw a morning show bump. Let’s see if this latest one is able to carry into this next football season.
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On Alex Cora again begging for help…
The Red Sox and Chaim Bloom botched the trade deadline a year ago.
So much so that last summer Bloom traveled first to Houston and then Kansas City to talk with his team about the trade of Christian Vazquez and other moves. Team meetings in two different cities to try and explain what the team was up to. Because no one seemed to have any idea.
Manager Alex Cora was not shy about sharing his displeasure with how things played in some not-always-on-the-record conversations with the Boston media.
This year he’s broadcasting his thoughts to Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com.
“We’re in a good place. But at the end of the day, the place that we like is to play in October,” Cora said. “It’s not about how many prospects you have or where your farm system is. It might be No. 1 or 30th or whatever. The one that really counts is how many games you win in October and how many games you play in October. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
In other words - GET US SOME HELP.
Of course, Sam Kennedy went all Sam Kennedy Thursday on WEEI, reminding fans about the players coming back from injury.
“I don't think you want to make a trade at the trade deadline just to make a trade. I think you want to make a deal to bolster what you have if you need to, if you have holes, which, really interesting as we come into this trade deadline. We're right in the mix here. We're 51-46. Think we're two or three games out of a wild card spot. Obviously not where we want to be, but recognizing we've got 40% of the schedule remaining.
“We've got the potential post-trade deadline for three impact starters to come back hopefully in the month of August with Whit [Garrett Whitlock] and Tanner [Houck] and Chris Sale and then, fingers crossed, but we might have Trevor Story coming back sooner than later, an impact arm in the bullpen in John Schreiber. So, frankly, it's much more important that we get those guys back healthy and contributing, because I think if they had been healthy over the balance of the season, we probably wouldn't be a couple games out of the wild card. I think we'd be firmly ensconced in a playoff position.”
Fans LOVE when the team president points to guys coming back from injury as “additions.”
The best Sox Twitter follow, @RedSoxStats, also writes here on Substack and weighed in on the deadline late last night.
All that said, I’m ready for the Red Sox to go bigger. The tedious work of getting the house in order is never complete, but the heavy lifting is done. There shouldn’t be any remaining bridge talk, or uncertainty about how invested the Red Sox are going forward, they are going to be in for 2024, and that should start now.
He’s right. Cora should fight for his team, but the Sox are not winning this year. Any moves they make in the next week and a half should be with next season in mind.
But they have to get Cora (and by extension the players) on board with that. There can’t be any ambiguity about the approach. If that means adding to the team with a minor move that helps this year but does not take away any sort of asset for 2024, go for it. But if you trade James Paxton or Adam Duvall as part of a larger deal, the team and the manager have to understand the approach.
And if you can find someone dangling a front-line starter at the deadline, someone here for 2024 and beyond, you pull the trigger.
Big spot for Chaim Bloom. Big spot for the team. Let’s see how they play it.
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On the future of sports betting advertising in Massachusetts…
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has already signaled they want to be a “leader” in regulating sports betting advertising.
Last month, they voted to make Massachusetts the only state in the country to require that all sports betting ads in the state include "21+" or a similar term to indicate the minimum age requirement for sports wagering. This includes ads that appear in sporting venues like TD Garden, Fenway Park, and Gillette Stadium. This was highly publicized (and criticized here).
Not as quite as heralded, the rule also prohibits sports betting ads from appearing in outlets where 25% of the audience is under the age of 21.
If that last part sounds a little vague, you’re not alone.
Kevin C. Conroy, a partner at Boston-based Foley Hoag law firm, spoke with PlayMA about the regulations and how they might come into play this fall - a busy time for sportsbook ads targeted around the NFL.
His comments to PlayMA.com - I highlighted the last line for effect.
“One of the provisions says that operators need to use all available controls in order to prevent advertising to those under 21,” he said. “And that’s very vague. What is it? What does it mean, all available controls?”
“There are a lot of terms that are not defined,” he said. “I wish that their regulations had provided for some more ways to clearly comply with the regulations, because I think the companies would be interested in doing that. So, I’m watching that very closely, and it’ll be very interesting to see how the gaming commission proceeds.”
“I think there’s an open question as to whether companies are going to be able to comply with these regulations in the way that the gaming commission might demand,” Conroy said. “And I think if the gaming commission takes a strict interpretation of these regulations, it’s going to be very hard to do advertising in a way that we’re used to in the sports betting industry.”
Who is going to measure the audience? Who is going to audit the age % for an online video or promotion so on Twitter or Instagram or TikTok?
And then who is going to enforce all of this? Very, very vague.
Here we go again. More public meetings about controlling the messages from Massachusetts sportsbooks.
If history holds, the MGC will go above and beyond with tightening up their regulations come fall. Remember, this is a group with one commissioner who asked out loud at a public hearing if multi-leg parlays were “ethical.”
And eventually, it’s going to spill over to the sports bettor in Massachusetts. Not a matter of if, but when.
On a play today at Saratoga…
We’ve taken on a new endeavor with StackCapping this summer. We’re writing every day about the racing at Saratoga. You can subscribe now to Mutstack and make sure you’re getting all of our content, or if you’re reading this and already subscribed, you can manage your subscriptions at the bottom of this newsletter by clicking “Unsubscribe.” Trust me, it works, you won’t be unsubscribing I promise.
You can also find that daily content in the StackCapping tab above, but we hope you’ll subscribe. It’s a huge help.
As far as today goes, we’ll have thoughts and our Two Minute Pick around noon once we get an idea of just how bad the weather is going to be. They will be off the turf for most of the card and it’s likely to be decimated by scratches.
Good luck to Barstool Sports Dave Portnoy in the featured Lake George with #1 Queen Picasso. If she takes to whatever this soft turf looks like later, she’s live.
Easy to root for against 1..2..3..4…5!! Chad Brown horses.
And how about the big stretch coming up for the three-year-old horses!
Lots of the members of the 113th Annual MutStack.com Rest of Season 3-year-old Power Rankings find themselves in action over the next two weeks.
Forte - Next week in the Jim Dandy
Disarm - Next week in the Jim Dandy
Angel of Empire - Next week in the Jim Dandy
Mage - Saturday in the Haskell
Arabian Knight - Saturday in the Haskell
Tapit Trice - Saturday in the Haskell
Even Blazing Sevens, who was an “also receiving votes,’ he runs today at the Spa in the Curlin.
Saturday marks the return of the MutStack Podcast. We’ll preview the Haskell, Saturday’s late Pick 3 at Saratoga, and talk about the closure of an important racetrack with Jessica Paquette of Parx Racing.
If you like the Friday Four-Pack or our daily Saratoga coverage, please share with friends who you think might also enjoy it.
Go Queen Picasso.
Thanks for reading.