September 14 2012 07:55PM
With all the hoopla surrounding the lockout on the horizon and the Economics of the arena dominating the news, the Sports Section looks more like the Business Section these days. Who doesn't love a riveting cost analysis diagram where there should be a breakdown of the Oilers training camp line up? And we would rather see an interview with Fehr and Bettman wearing rumpled suits and rumplier faces than the Nuge all sweaty and talking about skating any day.
Anywhoo, we thought we would pose a question as it relates to a conundrum for the Nation if this is how things are going to be. An entire article surrounding the economics of the Nation Network. On a Friday night with no hockey in sight. Bleak huh?
The Nation Network started in 2007 as a Ryan Smyth protest site. At the time we were so upset that Captain Canada got dealt that we wanted to bring the very internet to its knees. We had never written anything longer than an email in our lifetime and certainly didn't expect to have to do much of anything.
Then things took a turn for the surreal and we collectively decided to take a run at hockey blogging as best as we could. Not as a business per se, but to add to the coverage of our most beloved Edmonton Oilers. This was 2007 and though things were grim we were only one year removed from the Cup Run. Things were bound to turn around soon!
The Nation Network turns five this November. That it has a community of hockey mad readers and contributors is probably one of the most amazing things that we have ever seen in our lives. Though we aren't a media type with any sort of brain for the game we have taken our mission very seriously out of respect for everyone who comes to these sites on a daily basis.
Find the best writers. Find the best MSM. Get the best content we can get then get the money to pay everyone the most we can to do the best job they can do.
We try and make content that we wish was already out there. Fun stuff, nerdy stuff, connected MSM stuff. Whatever it is as long as it is about hockey. We embrace other teams fans in so far as we acknowledge that they exist and are entitled to make up nonsensical SQUEEEE words about their own team if they so choose but they probably don't even have a player that is SQUEEEEE worthy much less their own version of said Squee.
Anywhoo, in the name of employing the most bloggers, most MSMers and finding the most interesting people to talk we have tried to offer multi platorm content as well.
ENTER NATION RADIO
The first time we had the good fortune to meet Lowetide we were blown away by a) how nice he is and 2) how he had the EXACT same voice as people you hear on the radio. "Man you sould like you should be on the radio" we said at the time "That's because I used to be on the radio back in the day" came his friendly and booming reply.
We swore on the very spot that if Lowetide would move some of his extraordinarily popular blog over to OilersNation we would find a way to get him to be the host of a Nation radio show. Over three years later, we have been able to bamboozle our way onto the radio with a two hour show on Saturdays on the Team 1260 in Edmonton.
Lowetide does an amazing job and he and his regular rotation of pirates put on a really entertaining show week after week. Their coverage of the Entry Draft every year is some of the best around and though they have yet to cover an Oilers playoff run we bet they have something awesome cooked up!
The rest of the Nation sites have big plans on the horizon too. NHLNumbers publishes a podcast on the regular as does TheLeafsNation and CanucksArmy. As the transition continues to more evenly distributed traffic across each of the sites NationRadio will only grow in its importance to the Nation Network.
ECONOMICS OF DREAMS
Buying radio air time takes longer than negotiating the Treaty of Versailles and the cost is in the neighbourhood of what one would expect from a reparations payment owed to the good people of France.
Advertising sales is a slow process too but the show that falls out the other end thanks to Lowetide, the Team 1260 crew and Kent Wilson is well worth it. We listen to 90% of the podcasts and always enjoy ourselves immensely as tens of thousands of others do too week after week.
The looming lockout has an effect on a great many hockey related companies. It has forced us to take a look at our cost structures and see if there is anything we can do to reduce our risk in the event of a prolonged work stoppage. Potential advertisers are scared off by the prospect of the lockout and hockey related budgets are all on perpetual hold until play resumes.
Existing partners and advertisers remain thankfully committed and we are moving forward with our plans to hire more bloggers, more MSMers, more radio hosts and as Kent Wilson so often yells "MORE OF EVERYTHING DAMMIT" before polishing his Gold AK-47 and laughing at bi-annual meetings on his Evil Island.
As a part of this we have looked at our radio ratings and podcast downloads. Without boring you to death with how radio ratings work and the like suffice to say that the radio ratings for NationRadio are good and podcasts are even better. This makes sense - many folk in the Nation live all over hells half acre and can't tune into Team 1260 from their remote locations.
Due to the inconvenient fact "they have lives" other NationRadio listeners aren't able to catch the live broadcast on the regular so they download the podcast instead. Saturday afternoons from 12-2 PM isn't the best airtime for poor ol' Lowetide but it was the best that we could afford. As a result the podcast on the Nation Network and on iTunes is very popular.
Bottom line: Podcast listeners crush our respectible radio listener count.
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION
Does NationRadio actually need to be on the radio or would it be better served as a podcast only? Same show you love, same hosts same everything just podcast on the sites and iTunes.
Not having to buy airtime would mean more pay for everyone involved in the show and bigger budgets would mean more high flying guests, exciting co-hosts and PRIZES PRIZES PRIZES.
Heck we could even do call in shows! Think of the excitement!
Lowetide: "Hello friend you are on the air"
Caller: "DERP DERP DERP HORCOFF"
Its chilling to think where things could go.
Or alternatively we could continue on with the Team 1260 and our perpetual battle to get it on the air in other cities. Our mission is to make a show that people listen to from Coast to Coast and continue to focus on our Nation Network contributors and players past and present.
It is a tricky bit of business but we will leave our move up to you. Please provide us with any insights and suggestions you may have on NationRadio in the comments and vote in the poll.
With a lockout looming and long lazy summers in short supply NationRadio will not air this week giving Lowetide a rare week off while we all discuss the kind of show we want to hear when the season returns.