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Will The Sports Battle Come Down to Barter VS. Pay?


Up until recently with ESPN the clear sports radio dominator some stations have been griping that they've had to pay for programming or take programs they did not necessarily want. When Cumulus starts selling the CBS Sports Network to affiliates it will be on a barter basis and that might be music to the ears of General Managers who had to write the check in order to keep their listeners happy with a strong ESPN product. And, have you ever met a General Manager who didn't like to save money?

CBS is no slouch when it comes to sports and CBS radio certainly has a successful history of producing high quality sports programming on stations all over the country. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey says, "The intent is to deliver this to our affiliates on a barter basis. That is the direction that we are going. We think it is going to be a very competitive product. There is going to be a lot of opportunity for us." It did not go unnoticed that the CBS press release highlighted flexibility allowing stations to cherry-pick. From the release..."Opportunities for affiliates to regionalize their lineup by choosing from select programs currently featured on CBS RADIO or Cumulus sports stations."

In our cover story with ESPN's Traug Keller, on the topic of paying for the ESPN product, he said "Theres real value in our brand. I think that our fees are not over-the-top. Were getting them. I think that is a reflection of how important the brand is out there in the sales world, as well as the content world. I think if you have a local sales force and they say they are representing radio, the most invisible of all media, it takes a lot of explanation. Having ESPN Radio takes a lot of the explanation out of selling. The advertiser and the client understand what it is immediately. The other piece is, in return for what we are asking, we are helping our affiliates build their websites. We have now taken over 100 different affiliates websites. We are taking them and streaming them through our iTunes app or radio app, and we are offering them wider distribution and real help on the technology side of the fence. So we are providing some real value and helping them grow. We dont grow if they dont grow. Everything we do is with that in mind. There is always an issue here or there, but I will say, since none of it has really hit my desk, its been pretty smooth sailing. Again, we are not just charging. We are coming in with a value proposition to you, and most of that relates to digital help."

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