On Monday, the NBC Sports Group announced that they would be forming the NBC Sports Radio Network with Dial Global Networks, broadcasters of the NFL and NCAA Tournament. Jumping into the fray already occupied by ESPN, Fox Sports Radio, and Yahoo Sports Radio, and becoming the third of the three major contenders in the sports TV wars to start a network they can hook up with their TV rights, eh? Well… not so fast.
The network will launch with regular sports updates and occasional commentaries from NBC Sports personalities, with actual shows starting later. So that will form the basis for an actual network, with a full-day schedule like the other three, right? Well… maybe? Probably? Given the emphasis on streaming and podcasts, you’ll forgive me for scratching my head at how many of the shows would actually be heard on terrestrial radio stations. And will Dial Global’s NFL and NCAA coverage be rebranded as NBC Sports Radio Network programming? At the least, I would expect the NFL theme music to change from the current CBS theme to the Sunday Night Football theme…
Regardless, it’s an intriguing development and a sign that NBC is trying to catch up in its deficiencies to ESPN and Fox for the coming wars, and I can’t help but wonder if they’re trying to help Dial Global pick up baseball rights. With Dial Global’s reach, I would expect them to immediately leapfrog Yahoo for third place among national radio networks, especially if they can pick up distribution for NBC Sports personality Dan Patrick’s radio show from Fox – which could also be a big boon to NBC Sports Network. But considering how few stations Yahoo has, it will be very difficult getting stations to switch from any of the existing three networks, especially given most stations’ tendency to replace national with local programming whenever they can. Perhaps a streaming- and podcast-heavy strategy is the best one.
The race in sports talk radio – and perhaps even more, the radio play-by-play rights wars – just heated up considerably.