The BSM Top 20 is a fun and subjective series which many enjoy each year. We appreciate all who take the time to participate in the voting process to help us determine the industry’s best in the various categories we recognize. Given how large the sports media industry is, there are tons of additional categories that could be voted on and debated, but asking our panel to do more than they already do isn’t something I’m comfortable with. These folks have stations and companies to run, not full days to spend making selections for yours truly.
But the BSM staff, past and present members? Well, that’s a different story.
Though we’re each busy with daily responsibilities, we all love the industry and spend time following it, writing about it, and analyzing it. Hundreds of thousands of people hit this site each month to read our content, many of them members of the media business, and if they value the words presented on this screen enough to digest it, then I’m sure they’ll appreciate and enjoy how our crew views some of the best in the business in other categories.
Which brings me to BSM’s Specialty Selections. I created a survey for our crew which contained 21 questions, all offering a number of choices for our crew to choose from. These categories were different from the BSM Top 20 and represent twenty one (21) total votes by our current staff and a few select former members. With this being the final congratulatory day of the Top 20 series, we want to once again all of the winners and recognized brands, and remind you that provided enough participation is received, a News Radio version of the Top 20 will be delivered later this year .
Now here are BSM’s Top 20 (Plus one Bonus Choice) Specialty Selections!
Sports Insider of the Year: Our team selected Adam Schefter as the best sports insider. Adam captured 33% of the total vote. Ken Rosenthal finished 2nd. Adrian Wojnarowski came in third.
Sports Media Reporter of the Year: With 60% of the vote, Andrew Marchand of the NY Post was recognized by our team as the top sports media reporter of 2021. Next up was Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports followed by The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch.
Sports Media Podcast of the Year: I’m sure checks were mailed out or beatdowns were promised to our crew if votes didn’t come his way, but Demetri Ravanos prevailed with BSM’s Media Noise Podcast. Coming in second was Sports Media w/ Richard Deitsch followed by the Marchand & Ourand podcast.
Sports Media Website of the Year: The NY Post continued to earn praise from our team for presenting the best sports media website of the year. Between Andrew Marchand and former BSM contributor Ryan Glasspiegel, the Post has positioned itself well in the sports media space. Next up was The Athletic followed by Outkick.
Sports Media Story of the Year: A case could be made for the arrival of the Manningcast, the sale of Outkick to FOX, the high profile saga at ESPN involving Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols or Dave Portnoy’s ongoing feud with Business Insider, but our choice was Betting Brands Go All-In on Sports Media. With DraftKings investing millions in the Dan Le Batard Show and VSiN, and FanDuel committing 30 million per year to Pat McAfee, the sports betting behemoths have shown they’re here to stay and they’re determined to make an impact.
Sports Media Leap of Faith of the Year: Our crew pledged its support to Dan Le Batard and Friends making the jump from ESPN to launch their own company, Meadowlark Media with former ESPN executive John Skipper. Since taking the plunge, Le Batard and company may not have the same reach as they once did, but they’ve found new ways to excel in a rapidly changing sports media environment. Runner ups for this category included WJOX Roundtable taking the same path as Le Batard and launching ‘The Next Round’, and the Midday 180 crew launching OutKick 360 and entering the syndication space.
Radio Play by Play Announcer of the Year: When Kevin Harlan is on the radio, the game just feels bigger. Our crew took notice of it as Harlan received 50% of the total vote. Following him in the category was SF 49ers voice Greg Papa, and NY Mets broadcaster Howie Rose.
TV Play by Play Announcer of the Year: This field was full of top talent, but one name stood above the rest, Al Michaels. The legendary hall of fame announcer (who every network should be trying to hire right now) grabbed 33% of the vote to prevail over CBS’ Jim Nantz. Taking third was FOX Sports’ Joe Buck.
TV Game Analyst of the Year: This was one of the most contested categories we had, and when all was said and done, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth was chosen as the best TV game analyst by our team, pulling in 25% of the total vote. Finishing behind Collinsworth, each with 15% of the vote were FOX Sports’ Troy Aikman and Joel Klatt, and ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy and Dick Vitale.
Sports TV Opinionist of the Year: When it comes to sports debates on television, there’s Stephen A. Smith and then everyone else. The ‘First Take’ king secured a massive 70% of the vote from our team to be recognized as the category winner. If we created another category for best social videos, Stephen A. might win that one too for his Dallas Cowboys postgame videos. I know he’d have my vote.
Sports TV Studio Show of the Year: Though football fans don’t need to be sold on how awesome our winning show is, when Inside The NBA doesn’t stand tall, there’s nothing else you can call it other than an upset. The winner according to our staff by the difference of 1 vote over TNT’s hit NBA program was NFL RedZone. Sunday’s aren’t the same without the fantastic show delivered by Scott Hanson. That’s a true testament to the quality delivered by Hanson and his crew. Finishing in a tie for third was First Take and PTI.
Sports TV Studio Host of the Year: NFL RedZone may have won the Studio Show category, but when it comes to Studio hosts, our crew chose the great Ernie Johnson as the category winner. EJ’s steady influence on Inside The NBA alongside Shaq, Charles and Kenny is what makes it one of the best programs on sports television. In fact, anytime Ernie leads a sports television show, you know you’re watching one of the best at his craft in action.
Sports TV Studio Analyst of the Year: Few possess the ability to inform, entertain, and make an audience react like Charles Barkley. Chuck received 50% of our team’s votes, with runner up ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky earning 20%. Five others tied with 5%.
Sports Radio Social Brand of the Year: WFAN in New York has done a tremendous job creating additional press and conversation due to their well produced video work, audiograms, images, and articles and that was enough to sway our staff by recognizing the NY sports brand as the winner category. Coming in second was 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, followed by a tie between ESPN Chicago and SKOR North.
Sports Betting Brand of the Year: Though the big boys like DraftKings, FanDuel and Penn National have begun investing big in talent and brand partnerships, when it comes to content creation and providing daily interest, the top sports betting brand according to our team was VSiN. With the network pumping out original radio and video content 7 days per week, podcasts produced to satisfy various betting tastes, and video, newsletters, and betting guides created to assist bettors in making smart gambling decisions, VSiN stood above the field to grab 50% of the vote. Coming in second was BetQL followed by OutKick.
Sports Betting Show of the Year: The choice in this category according to our team was ESPN’s Daily Wager. Hosted nightly by Doug Kezirian, DW received 40% of the vote to emerge victorious. Following behind was The Barstool Sports Advisors and Follow The Money.
Sports Betting Talent of the Year: The flood of personalities talking about sports betting on radio, television, social media, and podcasts is endless, but the person who stood out most according to our team was ESPN’s Joe Fortenbaugh. Fortenbaugh secured 25% of the vote to hold off BetQL’s Nick Kostos. A four way tie for third included ‘Big Cat’ Dan Katz, Ariel Epstein, Clay Travis, and Cousin Sal.
Sports Betting App of the Year: This was a tight race, which was won by 1 vote by Caesars. Those emperor ads with the Manning family likely helped. So too did their outstanding incentives to signup. Caesars reaeled in 30% of the vote to produce the win. On their heels was FanDuel and DraftKings, each tied with 25% of the vote.
Pro Wrestling Audio Show of the Year: This has quickly become a massive category with a lot of top wrestlers now hosting shows. But for this year, the choice was SiriusXM’s Busted Open Featuring Dave La Greca, Bully Ray, Tommy Dreamer and Mark Henry. Next up was Jim Cornette’s podcast ‘The Cult of Cornette’ followed by a three-way tie between Ric Flair’s Woo Nation, 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff, and Talk Is Jericho.
Independent Podcast Company of the Year: Brands with millions flocking to their content in other places tend to do alright generating a podcast audience. But those without built in advantages have to turn over every loose stone to find ways to connect with listeners, attract advertisers, and become a larger part of the mainstream conversation. When it came down to this category, the group our team chose as this year’s winner with 43% of the vote was Locked On Podcasts. Next up was Blue Wire followed by Bleav.