ESPN-1050 & others could enter the bidding
880-AM WCBS, the radio home of the Yankees since 2002, currently pays $13 million per year for the Bombers radio rights. That's big moolah for a baseball radio deal, but not tops in Major League Baseball.
According to Richard Huff at nydailynews.com, that distinction belongs to the Red Sox who are pulling down $18 million per for their radio rights.
The Yankees probably are looking for Red Sox-like money. Considering the state of the economy in general, and the radio business in particular, they will be lucky to get a slight increase from WCBS-AM unless, of course, there's a "desperate" radio outlet looming.
Like most rights-fee negotiations, the incumbent station has an "exclusive" bargaining period. If an agreement is not reached on a new contract with WCBS-AM before that "exclusive" window closes, other outlets can bid.
ESPN-1050 (WEPN) will be a player for Yankees rights. It could play the role of the "desperate" outlet. Acquiring Yankee baseball would instantly fill a huge void for a station hustling for ratings, bringing it higher visibility from a vast audience that has no idea ESPN-1050 even exists. A 1050 partnership with the Yankees would instantly turn up the competitive heat on WFAN, home of the Mets, by increasing - probably significantly - 1050's ratings.
There's a major stumbling block for ESPN-1050 - its weak signal. Two Dixie Cups attached by a string is a powerhouse by comparison. Seriously though, Yankees brass probably doesn't want its games airing on a station with - literally - no juice.
ESPN can alleviate the problem by purchasing a station with a strong signal. Industry sources say ESPN has shown interest in buying RXP 101.9, an FM station owned by Emmis Communications. Emmis was asking $125 million for the station, but the price has apparently dropped to $100 million.
If ESPN does not acquire a station with a big-time signal, but comes in with the highest bid, would the Yankees decide to glom the money at the expense of being stuck on 1050?
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