SportsBusiness Journal reports for the first time in 22 years, the NFL is considering selling its national radio rights to a company other than Westwood One: “The league allowed an exclusive negotiating window with the financially troubled radio network to lapse this month and opened the process to other bidders for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. The NFL expects to make its decision at the end of January. During its exclusive negotiating period, Westwood One had offered to pay about $20 million a year to extend its deal for two years, a figure that is relatively flat with its current deal, but up to 30% higher than what ESPN Radio is expected to offer for the entire package.
NFL executives passed on the offer, sources said, because of the radio company’s tenuous financial position,” said the story.
The NFL sent out letters to other sports radio syndicators and networks last week that suggested that it was open to splitting its rights among two or more radio companies. The letters, say the story, went to ESPN Radio, Sporting News Radio (owned by American City Business Journals, parent of SportsBusiness Journal), Sports USA Radio and The Content Factory.
RBR/TVBR observation: The loss of NFL play-by-play, adding to the loss of Bill O’Reilly could be too much for Westwood to take. However, the good news for WW1 is the story claims ESPN Radio is more interested in obtaining rights to Monday Night Football–it holds the TV rights to “Monday Night Football” and would like to extend them to radio. So WW1 may end up keeping Thursday, Saturday, some Sunday (NFL does not handle radio rights for those days) and Thanksgiving Day games.