Sports radio talk shows, long a staple of AM/FM dials, are coming to Twitch — in the form of live, interactive video broadcasts.
In the first deal of its kind, Amazon-owned Twitch will distribute video simulcasts of top sports talk programs from radio broadcaster and audio streamer Entercom Communications.
Under the agreement, Twitch initially will livestream Entercom’s Radio.com Sports stations from six markets across the U.S. on dedicated branded station channels: Boston’s WEEI, New York’s WFAN 101.9 FM/660 AM, Dallas’ 105.3 The Fan, Chicago’s 670 The Score, Atlanta’s 92.9 The Game and Detroit’s 97.1 The Ticket.
Of course, right now, the sports industry overall is suffering because of COVID-19 shutdowns. In April, Entercom told investors it expects to see continued revenue decline for sports stations as the result of the suspension of the NHL and NBA seasons and the delay of Major League Baseball’s 2020 season. That will be largely offset by the pro-rata reduction of Entercom’s play-by-play sports rights fees.
Once sports leagues resume action, Entercom sees the Twitch pact as helping widen its sports-talk franchises to a new generation of fans. On Twitch, users will be able to participate in the live shows via the site’s chat features, a new spin on sports radio’s time-tested format of airing called-in hot takes.
“This partnership will expand how listeners can connect with our on-air talent through real-time engagement on Twitch,” said David Rosenbloom, Entercom’s VP of corporate business development.
Twitch says it has about 17.5 million daily active users for its social video platform. Long a home for video-game livestreamers and esports, Twitch has seen a steadily growing community on the platform around traditional sports, according to Jane Weedon, director of new verticals.
“You’ll be hard-pressed to find a group of people more passionate than sports fans,” Weedon said.
Entercom said it will promote the Twitch distribution deal through its over-the-air, digital and social channels. The company’s Radio.com division — which Entercom picked up with the 2017 acquisition of CBS Radio — provides access to Entercom’s 234 local news, sports and music radio stations.