A’s, with no radio deal yet, to emphasize streaming broadcasts

The A’s will still have a traditional radio home for their broadcasts in 2019, according to team president Dave Kaval, but will be emphasizing their streaming service first and foremost in the coming year.

“We need to look at this in an innovative way,” Kaval told The Chronicle on Thursday. “Terrestrial radio is kind of dying and we need to look long-term at how you get in front of people with audio. There is still going to be an audio feed of the game, the way there is with traditional radio, but there are going to be many ways people can consume that and we want to provide options to achieve that in multiple ways.”

According to Kaval, the A’s are close to finalizing partnerships for distributing their audio content. There are numerous apps that Oakland could team with to present a steaming service, which would include game replays and additional programming such as pre- and post-game shows, team-related talk shows and interviews. MLB.com also has its own streaming app that provides all major-league games.

With FanFest on Saturday and pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in two and a half weeks, however, the team still has no traditional radio deal in place after the team’s acrimonious departure from 95.7 FM The Game. Kaval said the A’s still hope to be able to provide some game broadcasts from spring training in Arizona, though the team will be there less than five weeks because of the season-opening trip to Japan.

The Los Angeles Kings air their games only via the iHeartRadio app, and several other NHL teams use primarily streaming services. Numerous college programs provide streaming-only coverage of their sports teams. Steams can be accessed on PCs, laptops, smart phones, tablets and in many cars produced over the past several years, but until the A’s have a radio deal in place, listeners with older vehicles might be out of luck while commuting.

The A’s have strongly considered purchasing a local radio station, with KGO 810 AM among the four or five options, but negotiations have been unsuccessful. There are only a few owners, however — most stations are part of larger corporations — and there are FCC restrictions and regulations and league approval for such deals thanks to territorial rights.

“That’s a possibility,” Kaval said of buying a station. “Those transactions take some time.”

If those efforts don’t pan out, the Bay Area has few radio outlets with sufficient reach to cover the entire region, and baseball can be a difficult sell because of the enormous time commitment that interrupts regular drive-time programming, so the A’s may have to buy time on two or more non-sports stations if they are to serve much of the fanbase.

“Suffice it to say, we’ll have a terrestrial option that’s better than what we had,” Kaval said.

The team split with 95.7 FM after the season, signaling their departure with a tweet that read “It’s not us, it’s you,” with a photo of a cart with A’s gear rolling out of The Game offices. “We didn’t feel we had a partner that was a good long-term fit or that was really promoting this amazing team and all we’re doing,” Kaval said. “That was something that was not working and we heard from fans who were frustrated. We needed to go another direction.”

Club broadcasters Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo are both back for the upcoming season. “They do an incredible job,” Kaval said. “They’re going to be with us this year and beyond. There is not going to be a change in that area.”

Minor-league broadcaster Donny Baarns is expected to continue to provide play-by-play of A’s spring games on athletics.com.

Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: sslusser@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @susanslusser

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/athletics/article/A-s-with-no-radio-deal-yet-to-emphasize-13559722.php.

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