Are eSports the future?

That one guy in the comments section seems to think so, but 97.5 the Fanatic isn’t so sure.

Philadelphia’s first FM sports station is putting out feelers to see if any of their listeners care about video gaming. They sent out this message to people on their email list, seeking feedback:

Mike didn’t write that, of course. Some producer or creative services or sales person did.

But I find the email very interesting because I am almost one million percent certain that the 97.5 listener base does not care about eSports. I don’t think Bernie from Broomall or Jose from Norristown or that Bob guy from Tennessee with the great accent know a single thing about video games, nor would they have any interest in listening to eSports programming or podcasts.

Plus, the local stations don’t even talk about all of our “traditional” sports teams anyway. It’s all Eagles all the time, with some Sixers and Phillies sprinkled in. There’s no Flyers talk. There’s no college football or basketball talk. There’s no Union talk. It’s the same shit it always is, i.e., “who’s the toughest Eagle of all time?” and “give me your Mount Rushmore of Eagles quarterbacks.”

However, as Nate Diaz once said – “I’m not surprised” that 97.5 sent out this email. They started airing a syndicated Saturday night eSports program more than a year ago called “Checkpoint Radio.” The show is produced by Westwood 1 and I wrote a story about it for Philly Views before I came over to Crossing Broad.

Rick Scott is Checkpoint’s CEO and told me this:

“An interesting stat is that 46 percent of the people who play eSports are also NFL fans. I don’t think you have an isolated group. Everyone seems to think that the guy who plays video games is somebody who stays in his mother’s basement and hollers, ‘bring me dinner!’ That’s not the case. It’s across the board, because you’re seeing all kinds of people who are huge fans of sports, whether it’s football or basketball, and it goes through to the other sports as well. They participate. It’s something that I think radio stations – like the Fanatic in Philadelphia –  their management teams are recognizing that there is value in this. And they’re partners with the Sixers, so that’s a natural fit to do an eSports show.”

He’s not wrong. And 97.5’s audience trends younger than WIP, so it makes more sense for the Fanatic to keep poking around in the eSports space, while 94.1 would just be wasting time and money with similar research.

To that point, this email at least intrigues me from the standpoint of, “okay, at least they’re putting out some programming-related feelers and exploring a bit.” Not sure about you, but whichever radio station breaks away from 24/7 Eagles talk and just adds some diversity to the topics gets my undivided attention.

Or, Eric Johnson, if you’re reading this, call me. I’ll do Saturday nights for free. We’ll talk Flyers, Union, college sports, and MMA. The entire show will be dedicated to sports that people care about but don’t hear on either radio station.

We’ll call the show, “The Kinkead Factor, with Kevin Kinkead.”