Wednesday, March 11, 2009
ESPN Radio has been poking and prodding its way into a ton of local radio markets over the past few years, and now that they've developed somewhat of a stronghold, it appears it might come at a cost. Sports by Brooks is reporting, that Top 30 markets featuring ESPN's shows might soon have to be upwards of $100K for rights....
A source told me that ESPN is planning to charge some non-ESPN owned and operated sports radio stations fees to carry its radio network programming. For big markets (Top 30), the annual charge to stations is as high as $100,000.Whether or not ESPN actually IS going to ask for that kind of money is really irrelevant. The $100K gives local stations something that their own programming doesn't, and that's the simple business model of "out sourcing". Obviously there are a lot of other factors that go into rights deals like this, but in the end, $100K might be a small price to pay instead of the headache that comes with managing talent and programming on a day-to-day basis. Still though, local hosts make a heck of a lot less than $100K, so for a lot of markets it probably wouldn't make sense.
Even in good economical times, that move is a serious horse pill to ingest for local sports talk radio stations.
My reaction, as a former sports radio program director and on-air personality for 16 years (including on ESPN radio affiliates), is that very, very few (if any) Top 30 markets would pay a six-figure sum to air ESPN network programming.
Most, if not all of those stations make their money on local sports talk shows and play-by-play ad sales. Revenue from ESPN’s national properties is usually negligible - as most of its shows have struggled in the ratings against large market, local shows. (I know, not in every case.) Perhaps local stations could make money on ESPN Radio’s play-by-play properties, but not enough to make up that $100K rights fee in any scenario.
ESPN Radio is definitely not a market standard, but their current business model definitely could make sense on a case-by-case basis.
ESPN Radio Wants $100,000 From Local Affiliates (Sports by Brooks)