Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WMAR-TV ABC 2 Launches A Monday Morning Sports Talk Show

Courtesy: ABC 2 News
WMAR-TV has launched a unique but awkward partnership with Baltimore's highest rated sports talk radio station, 105.7 The Fan. The alliance has spawned "The Nest" which is being described as "honest and interactive sports talk."

"The Nest," a 30-minute show, will air exclusively online and on mobile devices at every Monday at 10 a.m. and will serve as an overview of the previous day's Ravens game, the latest happenings with the Orioles and fantasy football as well as whatever else in being talked about in the sports world. It is hosted weekly by Jamie Costello and a 105.7 The Fan personality live from a new set built specifically for the show at WMAR's headquarters in Towson.

The show debuted on one of the newsiest days in recent Baltimore sports history although at the time of airing, the Ray Rice TMZ story had not fully blown up yet. Only 6 minutes were spent in the beginning of the show discussing Rice's ordeal with former WNST host Glenn Clark (who was on the phone) as well as the fans' reaction on social media before they moved on to the Ravens' loss against the Bengals.

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Via @JamieFromABC2
Costello led the conversation throughout the show while Norris served as a pundit. ABC 2's traffic reporter Lauren Cook also contributed to the program serving as a social media correspondent while "Fantasy Football Talk"'s Brian Linder gave his take on which players to keep on your fantasy team.'s Britt Ghiroli even called in to talk Orioles baseball.

The show reminds me a lot of what you would normally see on 120 Sports. The segments weren't as quick as SI's newest video venture, but many different facets of Sunday's game were covered in a timely matter. The hosts were able to go in-depth without being held to the time constraints of television but they also didn't abuse that privilege and go overboard on any specific part of the game.

Weird Intricacies of The Fan Partnership

It's no surprise that ABC 2 has started an enterprise such as this since their parent company has decided to focus keenly on the digital strategies of their local stations. I'm just shocked that they partnered with 105.7 The Fan, a sister station to one of WMAR's chief rivals, WJZ-TV.

Why would WJZ be comfortable with their sister station working alongside WMAR? I personally think it's either because they aren't threatened by "The Nest," they had no say in the partnership or because they get along well enough with WMAR to be fine with the new show.

It's not that unprecedented for WMAR to be working with CBS (awkwardly a former CBS affiliate). When a man rammed a vehicle into WMAR's studios, ABC 2 ran WJZ's stream on their website and according to the Baltimore Sun:
WMAR and WJZ technicians were working together to get WMAR's signal back on the air. WMAR's transmitter is in the WJZ building.
I'm curious as to how 105.7 The Fan doesn't see this as creating competition for itself. Before "The Nest," there was no other option available for local sports talk at 10 a.m. on Monday mornings other than 105.7 since WNST-AM is usually airing "The Dan Patrick Show." Will a digital morning show impede on "Vinny and Rob"'s ratings or is this show meant to double down and superserve the fan?

WNST's Nestor Aparicio recently announced that he was taking over the reins of his station and would be it's main on-air personality. Is "The Nest" being launched to provide WNST with even more extra competition from CBS Radio (which also owns CBS Sports Radio 1300)? ESPN did something similar when Fox Sports Live launched. They aired Keith Olbermann's show and SportsCenter at 11 p.m. on ESPN2 and ESPN respectively in order to give Fox Sports Live no room to breathe. So far, their strategy has worked.

It is also unknown how much cross-promotion, if any at all, is being given to "The Nest" on 105.7's airwaves. Since 105.7 The Fan's online presence is hosted on WJZ's website, it is extremely unlikely we'll ever see "The Nest" promoted by The Fan via the internet. I wonder why ABC 2 didn't just partner with PressBox and The Monumental Network especially since PressBox already has a show and a relationship with the station.

We'll see how ABC 2 and 105.7 The Fan's relationship plays out in the future but in terms of the show's content, I think they did an adequate job of providing Baltimore sports fans with a new place to interact through an intersection of social media and video and I look forward to future episodes. It's good to see ABC 2 bring back some focus to the games viewers love after they became the first (and so far so good, the only) news station in Baltimore to remove the sports segment from their newscasts.

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