Sharks sign off on radio

Changing technology interferes with traditional media

Good morning, all! I hope your weekend was a good one.

We live in a changing world in so many ways, but my intention is to stick to sports in this newsletter, even though some of you who know me, are aware I once hosted a drive time, current events, politically oriented talk show on a Hartford, CT radio station. As world events swirl around us, my focus will remain on sports. Although sports itself continues to intersect with reality, I still find it enough of an escape to write about its many successes, changes and controversies.

That stated, technology continues to revolutionize sports. As the NHL launches a new, Covid-abbreviated season, the San Jose Sharks have checked their flagship radio station to the boards. Starting January 12, the Sharks will no longer broadcast their games on terrestrial radio, in this case 98.5 KFOX-FM. Instead, the team will carry its games on its website and a mobile app. This ends a 20-year run of Sharks hockey on KFOX.

This is not a case of a team and radio station unable to agree on a new rights’ fee. The move was apparently instigated by the team, claiming the radio station signal does not cover the Bay area and that it can reach more fans with an app and website.

Will there be blow back? Perhaps. The Oakland Athletics announced last spring they were ditching radio and going to app-only broadcasts. But that was a case of the station and ball club unable to reach compatible financial and programming arrangements. An outcry by fans also put the games back on radio. However, the hockey situation appears to be a different scenario, as San Jose initiated the move and has big plans for its app.

The Sharks are not the first NHL team to do this. The LA Kings and NY Islanders have also gone the app, website route in recent years. And when you think about it, why not? When was the last time you listened to a game on the radio or for that matter the radio? Many of you may listen to radio programming but via your smartphone, devices like the Amazon Echo or by tablet. Even now, when I’m in my auto, I find myself listening to the radio via my iPhone and Bluetooth-integrated dashboard. As more motor vehicle dashboards add sophisticated technology that includes apps, the trend is expected to accelerate. Think of it as audio’s version of the Yankees on YES, the Red Sox on NESN or the Nationals on MASN.

The day is coming in the not-so-distant future, when all professional sports teams and many collegiate teams will adopt the San Jose blueprint. When that happens, when they have you hooked, look for a subscription fee to accompany that app. It may be “All About That Bass” with Meghan Trainor, but in the sports’ world it’s all about how many revenue streams a team can tap into.

Cuomo pushes sports betting

Add New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to the list of governors seeking to legalize online wagering on sporting events. The governor announced last week he will push for legalized betting as a revenue stream for government. Online sports betting is legal in 14 states. In New York, you can only bet at betting parlors. This would move wagering online.

“New York has the potential to be the largest sports wagering market in the United States…”

-Gov. Cuomo

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is also pushing to legalize betting, including some form of online betting. And it will not stop there, as talks persist that betting parlors will be built in Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field, among other venues, so when fans are permitted to return they can get their betting fix on every pitch.

The Pandora’s box has been opened. Somewhere, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis is rolling over in his grave. Somewhere, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is screaming for reinstatement. We do know Pete Rose wants reinstatement. Somewhere, those “No Betting” signs that used to be placed at ballparks are becoming collectors’ items.

In yesterday’s NFL playoff game, Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel opted to punt, rather than go for it in Baltimore territory on 4th-and-2 with his team trailing in the fourth quarter. You thought conspiracy theorists had a field day before? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Are Pederson’s coaching days numbered?

I wrote and did a podcast last week about the controversy surrounding Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who coached a horrible game, as his Eagles lost to The Washington Football Club, 20-14, on primetime television. The game’s outcome had playoff consequences. I suggested that Pederson should lose his job over how he coached that game and now stories are emerging his days as Eagles coach may be numbered.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that Pederson is on shaky ground over how he coached last Sunday’s game, how he handled this season’s quarterback fiasco and how he views the direction of the franchise. Let’s just say if Pederson is dismissed, I will not be surprised.

Our weather to undergo dramatic change

Finally, let me take a moment, once again, to plug the podcast I co-host with meteorologist Brad Field. No matter, where you get this newsletter, you could be experiencing some major weather changes in the next 10 days. Among other things, the changes could impact NFL playoff games. Click below on the podcast art, to learn why a major plunge into winter is on our horizon.

That is it for the start of a new week. Be well, be safe and thank you for your support.