blogs. We seek to provide authenticity and local flavor. And we boast an entirely local ownership led by a 25-year Baltimore sports media veteran and a World Championship head coach in Brian Billick, plus a bunch of other savvy local business owners and investors and entrepreneurs.
One more item you should know about if you seek knowledge of the Baltimore sports media scene — the cozy arrangements and strange bedfellows of local media and teams and the incestuous nature of the industry.
Let me see if I can get this straight (but it is very confusing).
The Orioles own and control MASN. They code-share television games with CBS-TV and WJZ. They say that 105.7 The Fan is their “FM radio partner,” which is how they somehow restrict our locker room access. They have the name of The Sun on their scoreboard and the money trail flows in both directions as they backrub each other. Oh, and WBAL/Hearst is their “real” flagship, which clearly causes WBAL-TV to be a partner. And if you’ve ever seen the cover of Pressbox, you know that Mr. Angelos writes a check to Stan Charles for that orange ad for Fireworks night all summer long.
The Ravens consider The Sun a “media partner” via their videos and coverage. Their TV games mainly appear on WJZ-TV so the CBS cash flow is greatly enhanced by their success as well. And of course WBAL-AM and 98 Rock are also considered the radio flagship and official partner of the Ravens. Oh, and the post-game partnership and programming destination is Comcast Sports Net.
Oh, and behind it all you have The Baltimore Sun and WJZ as “media” partners. And The Sun calls itself a “partner” of both the Orioles and the Ravens. Oh, and CBS Radio is a partner of Maryland athletics.
Got all that straight?
What it means is that it’s a big alphabet soup and at the end of the day, you’re probably not getting the truth because these media entities can’t afford to tell the truth. You’re getting corporate BS at all different levels and times.
But as media entities, the brands are only as thick as the brand of their media personalities in many ways. When I was a kid at The Evening Sun we had a myriad of columnists – Bill Tanton, Bill Burton, Phil Jackman, Kevin Cowherd, Mike Littwin, Alan Goldstein, John Steadman, Ken Rosenthal, etc. – and I always wondered who was reading what in the newspaper. There was never a way to really tell and I’m not sure the bigwigs wanted to know the truth about your consumption.
Hell, as long as you bought they newspaper they didn’t really care if you liked the columnist or not.
In 2012, all of the individual brands are on display for size, relevance and impact.
Most of the local sports media brands ignore “breaking news,” deeper analysis and the media here has “soft-sold” the problems with the Orioles for 15 years. It costs them their credibility every day. That’s the WNST competitive advantage. Of course, the Orioles take people’s press passes for criticism and I’m Exhibit A for that.
But fan bias is what makes the sports world tick. The heart of all of this is that people really care and have an opinion about sports. The WNST brand tries to sort through the issues while educating, learning and empowering conversation in the Baltimore sports media marketplace.
The teams are now their own brand. The teams also provide content. There’s business tension that plays out every day, especially when the teams are doing well on the field.
Fan sites have no premium on breaking news. They swarm to the news almost instantly and create opinions. It’s headlines, not bylines for many people.
But sharing the experience of the game IS NOW A MOBILE EXPERIENCE. And it will forever be. It’ll never go back to waiting until “after the game” for analysis.
The analysis is ongoing from the tailgate until the final whistle and beyond.
Mobile devices have increased expectations for INSTANT content and how quickly and rapidly you can distribute it. The fan experience of being at a game is ALL about the mobile device.
I MUST sit in the press box now because sometimes my phone doesn’t work from my seat. And we are distributing content to more than 20,000 people with each tweet!
The next big question will be how your mobile device will interact in your car. That will transform the industry and bring our “little radio station” full circle into your vehicle in all sorts of ways.
One this is certain – you do NOT consume Baltimore sports media information in the same way you did two years ago. And anything that happened before 2006 almost doesn’t count.
Over the next two days I’ll be writing more about the state of Baltimore sports media in 2012.
Again, all of this is designed to be thought provoking and stimulate good conversation about the ways we can be better.