A report in the NY Post says ESPN Radio in The Big Apple may be signing a long-term programming rights deal on an FM there this week—providing a better nighttime signal than Disney’s current WEPN-AM 1050. It is also speculated the network would be a big bidder for Yankees rights, which are up for grabs after this season. The Yankees have been heard on WCBS-AM since 2002. It’s also in the cards that Knicks’ and Rangers’ nighttime radio broadcasts would switch from 1050 to ESPN’s new FM spot.
WCBS currently pays the Yankees about $14 million per season for rights. It is a big money-loser for the station and the CBS Radio Network, which also owns WFAN, reported the Post. WFAN’s deal with the Mets, in the neighborhood of $7 million per year, expires after this season.
No word yet, on which FM ESPN is close to signing on with, but Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels confirms with RBR-TVBR that his WEMP-FM NYC will not be the station. He adds, “I don’t think [Family Radio] WFME has come on the market. Not likely to be WBLS. More likely BS.”
ESPN Radio spokesperson David Scott tells us: “We have nothing to announce but are always looking for opportunities that make business sense for ESPN.”
RBR-TVBR observation: It could be a variety of FMs if the deal is only for certain teams/games/dayparts. If it is a full-time FM, we could consider WFME, Cumulus Media’s WPLJ-FM (18th in the latest Arbitrons) or Bill O’Shaughnessy’s WVIP-FM—which covers most, but not all of the market. While Cumulus Media Networks recently split with ESPN for ad sales of the radio network, there are still ties that bind from the relationship.