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  • Writer's pictureDistinction Agency

A New Wave of Alternative Sports Media

By: Quinn Kreller

After Aaron Rodgers went down three plays into his Jets debut, there were only two men who could salvage that Monday Night Football game. Two men not named Jordan Whitehead or Xavier Gipson, that is. The dynamic duo of Peyton and Eli Manning reached into the ashes of all their Rodgers-centered material and pieced together an entertaining broadcast.

The ManningCast is at the forefront of a new wave of non-traditional sports broadcasts that have taken the sports world by storm. These changes to the old broadcast formula have become a gold mine for sports media organizations and content creators alike, and it’s only going to get better from here.

Eric Weinberger, president of Bleav production company and a former executive at Bally Sports, The Ringer, and NFL Media, says that while content creators calling games might not break viewership records, clips can circulate for longer on social media. This brings an incredible advantage because now more than ever, live sports are perishable. If a viewer wants to tape a live game to watch later, they would likely have to avoid going on social media or their phone entirely. With traditional broadcasts, sports almost have to be consumed live, but the rise of new forms of sports media means longer-lasting content coming out of the booth.

The greatest power of non-traditional sports media is its appeal to a younger audience. Per Sports Business Journal, viewers of ESPN’s ManningCast average five years younger than the traditional broadcast. Viewers are also more engaged, with 18-24-year-olds averaging 100 minutes of watch time, compared to ESPN’s traditional coverage averaging just over 60 minutes, regardless of age.

This rise in youth engagement is not just with the NFL, who are already great about drawing in younger audiences. Even golf is dipping into this fountain of youth. In July, Barstool Sports’ broadcasted a Korn Ferry Tour event on their streaming service This broadcast resulted in a 220% social channel growth compared to an average week, a 98% increase in internet traffic on the Korn Ferry Tour’s page on, and last but certainly not least, a whopping 82% of viewers were below 35 years old. What makes this 35 number even more jarring is that PGATour had the highest average age of TV viewers of any pro sport in 2016 per Magna Global at 64 years old. In the past five years, we have seen every professional sports league fighting against Father Time with a wide variety of tactics, from the NFL’s Nickelodeon broadcasts to the MLB’s new pitch clock, but it seems that this new age of sports media is a golden ticket.

As great as this influx of non-traditional broadcasts is, this doesn’t signal a downfall for traditional telecasts. Per The Athletic, NBC’s broadcast of the NFL season opener averaged 26.8 million viewers, up 24 percent over last year's opener. Even more impressive was the 60 percent bump up to 2.8 million average minute stream viewers- NBC’s second-best NFL streaming audience ever. These non-traditional broadcasts are not competing with the old ways, they complement each other to bring new eyes to sports, and both parties understand this. The Manning-owned media company Omaha Productions has taken the philosophy that they’re not there to replace the main broadcast, but to provide a different kind of service to fans. The PGA of America expressed a similar sentiment in a recent statement, saying that their new broadcasts are an “evolution of the product” rather than a replacement for the way things have been done for decades.

This concept of evolution has been scary for leagues to embrace. The fear of alienating loyal, older audiences has stagnated the growth of many pro sports leagues, namely the MLB, for the last decade. The consequences of this fear reared its ugly head as the MLB lost its title as “America’s Number One Pastime” to ever-evolving leagues like the NFL and NBA. All leagues understand the new way of life in the age of social media: evolve or die. Lucky for fans, sports broadcasts are going to continue to evolve like never before.

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