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New York Yankees To Move To WFAN

WFAN 660 101.9 New York Yankees John Sterling Suzyn Waldman WCBS 880Update 9/11: WFAN and the Yankees have made it official. The Yankees will move to 660/101.9 WFAN beginning in 2014.

No terms have been disclosed for the multi-year agreement that will see both frequencies carry all Yankees regular season and postseason games, Yankees pregame and postgame shows, and select spring training games. CBS will also acquire the Spanish language radio rights that will air on a station to be determined (though not necessarily a CBS owned station).

The New York Daily News reports that the contract is for ten years and worth $15-$20 Million per season. The contract will also see WFAN air broadcasts of the Major League Soccer expansion team co-owned by the Yankees that will debut in 2015.

INSTANT INSIGHT: Yankees Owner Hal Steinbrenner summed up the reason for the move best in the press statement, “Having the Yankees on WFAN-AM/FM provides listeners in the New York metropolitan area and beyond with superior broadcast quality and vast territorial signal strength.” The move gives the team access to the FM signal CBS acquired last year as well as the 50kW clear channel AM signal blanketing the east coast at night. For the Mets to keep up, they’ll have to ink deals with two companies to share their rights. ESPN’s 98.7 WEPN is a likely candidate to fill the FM hole, but would Clear Channel’s 710 WOR, Cumulus’ 770 WABC, or Bloomberg’s 1130 WBBR be willing to pay to share the rights?

Original Report 9/10: Newsday reports that the New York Yankees are closing in on a deal to make CBS Sports 660/101.9 WFAN their flagship station starting in 2014.

Telling the paper that “Right now we’re in negotiations and everything is confidential. Part of the agreement we’re drafting has a confidentiality agreement. I can’t even get into it. I am close with some entity for next year,” Yankees COO Lonn Trost admitted they were closing in on a deal with an unnamed entity.

The Yankees have been on WFAN’s sister News 880 WCBS since the start of the 2002 season and were paid between $13 and $14 Million on a one year extension for this season. WFAN has been the flagship of the New York Mets since its launch in 1987 (with a deal from its predecessor 1050 WHN stretching the relationship back to 1983), which the report states has been a money loser for CBS in recent years. Both ESPN’s 98.7 WEPN-FM and Clear Channel’s 710 WOR are mentioned as potential replacements for the Mets, who moved their Spanish language broadcasts to ESPN’s “ESPN Deportes 1050” WEPN this year.

Mets owner Jeff Wilpon confirms that the Mets will be departing WFAN and will have news on a new flagship in about six weeks.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

9 Comments

  1. Profile photo of joseph_gallant


    Could CBS keep the Mets and move them to either WCBSA-880 or WINS-1010??

    • Profile photo of Scott Fybush


      Highly, highly unlikely. Having the Yankees on WCBS just barely made sense because the Yankees are the Yankees, and are a big enough draw to make it worth giving up the format stability and revenue that would come from not interrupting the news format on 880. I say “barely” made sense because, of course, the Yankees would always have made more sense on WFAN, but the Mets were already there.

      It makes little to no sense to disrupt the all-news juggernaut on 880 (or on the much worse signal of 1010) to run the lower-rated Mets.

      It might have made sense on paper to split the WFAN simulcast, but it appears both teams really want the big AM signal. Might the Mets be willing to take 101.9 by itself, if the alternative is the identical 98.7 signal? Maybe…but the Yankees probably want both AM and FM.

      Another possibility might be for the Cumulus/Clear partnership on CBS Sports Radio to pave the way for the Mets to be heard on both 770 (primary) and 101.9 (when there’s no Yankees conflict), with CBS continuing to produce the games.

      No matter what happens, the Yankees are clearly driving the bus here, and the Mets, as so often is the case, are left to sweep up whatever remains once the Steinbrenners get what they want.

      • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


        If the WFAN simulcast were to be broken up for Mets and Yankees on alternating signals, wouldn’t that cause both 660 and 101.9 to be counted separately in the ratings books? That and it would be a massive logistical challenge for WFAN to handle. (Plus, this should end any immediate rumors that AM 66 could take the CBS Sports Radio feed, leaving all-local WFAN on 101.9.)

        The Yankees contract is justifiably a massive and expensive one. CBS had to keep it, but knew they couldn’t afford to keep both them and the Mets. Giving up the Mets was a sacrifice worth making.

  2. Profile photo of pjc1961


    Mets COO Jeff Wilpon announced on Tue. 9/10/13 that “the reports are accurate” that the Mets will be leaving WFAN after the 2013 season. He expects to have an announcement as to their radio future in about 6 weeks.

  3. Profile photo of kyl416


    If the Mets do end up on WOR, I wonder how Rush’s listeners will take it when the afternoon games along with the likely pre and post game pre-empt his show on a regular basis.

    • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


      Rush had to deal with Yankees preemptions on WABC for the first 12 years of his show’s run there – and that’s a tecnicality, as WABC only offered a two-hour local show (from July 1988 until KABC’s Micheal Jackson’s ABC Radio show ended).

      And in any event, WOR would be prohibited outright from streaming the Mets games on iHeart (MLB regs) so Rush would still be heard “on” WOR.

      Even if its’ the Mets, it still makes sense for CC and WOR to pursue. With the way many talkers have fallen on hard times recently, sports PBP has kept many a talker afloat in the ratings race – WLW being a good example.

    • Profile photo of Lance Venta


      Considering they had 19 weekday afternoon games this season, the effects would be minimal. At least half of those would likely come during the summer months when he would have a fill-in or be in best-of during vacation times.

  4. Profile photo of charles57


    Forcing the Yankees onto both AM and FM? Bass-ackwards to say the least. Arbitron’s rule on simulcasts plays into this.

    Paying the Yankees an 8-figure sum to broadcast their games? Welfare for rich people. CBS may end up laying off people company-wide just to break even. Entercom is doing that because of its expensive Boston Red Sox contract.

    Bragging about coverage beyond Greater New York? Hal Steinbrenner is living in a time warp. A nighttime AM signal blanketing the East Coast means zero in today’s media environment.

    Where the Mets end up? ESPN is out (Jets, Knicks, Rangers). Bloomberg is out (midweek day games are a problem). Cumulus is iffy (heavily in debt). Clear Channel is iffy (heavily in debt, constant layoffs). If the Mets want to be on radio next year they may have to pay the broadcaster, not the other way around.

    • Profile photo of Lance Venta


      Quite the opposite…

      WFAN bought 101.9 in order to make this deal happen, knowing it needed the AM and FM combined to give it the advantage over 98.7. Teams want to be on FM to reach younger demographics, while still having the wider reach of AM. That’s why the Phillies are on WPHT and WIP-FM, the Nationals on WFED and WJFK, Braves on WCNN and WNNX, Indians on WTAM and WMMS. 21 of 30 NFL franchises have AM AND FM flagships in their home markets

      Why would any of the stations you mention be out? WEPN has been pushing to gain one of the two MLB franchises in New York from the day it moved to 98.7 and WFAN has made do with having franchises in all four sports since the early 90’s (Then Mets, Jets, Knicks, Rangers now Yankees, Giants, Nets, Devils and in 2015 MLS). The reason Sports franchises (MLB and NFL in particular) gain high rights fees is the high sampling it bring potentially leading to listeners sticking around for remainder of programming. With both Talk stations, WOR and WABC retooling this upcoming year having baseball nightly could lead to people sampling their newer efforts. WBBR would be a time buy, just as it is now for all the overflow games it takes from WFAN , WEPN and syndicators, and an easy way for a Mets/98.7 pairing to add a 50kW AM.

      By your statements, Cumulus and Clear Channel shouldn’t be able to add any programming anywhere because they have debt. Virtually every radio station has debt.

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