Self Promotion In Sports Programming

It’s March and “The Big Dance,” the NCAA Basketball Tournament, is in full swing. There’s a good chance your station is involved with the tournament one way or another. It may just be a tournament bracket contest, or maybe your station is airing the local team on their road to the Final Four.

Many small market broadcasters have been carrying some type of sports programming for many years. It’s often the local high school, the university in the area, or even the nearest professional sports team(s). In recent years, more and more medium market FM music stations have been airing some sort of sports programming, too.

OK, so you’ve got the local team on the air. Rah, Rah! Everyone feels good, especially if the team is doing well. GMs are happy because the broadcast is a sellout. But is that really good? Are you only looking at the present versus the future? I feel too many small to medium market stations are forgetting something very important when it comes to airing sports programming - self promotion.

I recommend that you save one or two avails in every broadcast to promote your station, even if you can easily sell out the broadcast. Look at it as an investment rather than lost revenue. When a team is successful, chances are, there will be new listeners seeking out your station for the broadcast. Why not take advantage of that new audience to your station to tell them what you do the rest of the time?

This can be done for any format. Music stations should air promos identifying the music that is played. Maybe you could have a promo identifying your big personalities. Even NewsTalk stations can benefit! Why not promote your award winning news coverage, or your big Morning show, or even your other sports programming?

The next time you watch a sporting event on TV, notice how many times the network promotes itself. They always make room for promos. They have the announcers mention upcoming shows and programs, too. (Of course, the latter is not feasible when you are carrying a network broadcast.)

Don’t forget those IDs and bumpers, either. Instead of just having your board op read the temp, call letters and city of license in the legal ID, have one (or several) IDs recorded that promote what the station is all about. If you’re a music station, tell people that. Rather than “It’s 57 degrees at WBIF Hometown,” try “This is B105, the home of today’s hits and yesterday’s favorites. WBIF Hometown.” You can also mention the team or event that is being broadcast. Make that team or event yours. Let people know you carry the “Hometown Hornets,” the local professional sports team, or the Indy 500.

Most networks allow for some sort of bumper after local breaks. It may be short, but use it to your advantage to promote yourself.

So, while the revenue of a sellout is nice, remember to think about the station’s future. If you’re looking to build listenership, then take advantage of this new audience by telling them about who you are and what you do.