Dickey Eyes Clear Channel And ESPN
The Cumulus business model is always about scale, according to CEO Lew Dickey. He believes his Dial Global purchase gets him closer to that goal and closer to a fair-and-square battle with his big radio brothers across the street. Calling both companies "our friends" several times, Dickey told shareholders and analysts that aquiring Dial Global puts Cumulus in a position to be a stronger competitor with Clear Channel's Premiere and ESPN. With about 460 Cumulus-owned stations and roughly 10,000 affiliates to push network content out to, Dickey says this purchase puts the company in a position for future growth.
Dickey said, "Premiere has a lock on the Talk format with Rush, Hannity, and Beck. They have a great business. This allows us to mount a challenge." With this purchase, Cumulus would get the synidcation rights to Clark Howard, Dennis Miller, Ed Schultz, Herman Cain, Stephanie Miller, and others to add to its stable of talkers, including Michael Savage, Imus, Geraldo, Huckabee, and others. Dickey said Premiere is "a great company, an excellent company," but competition is good for everybody and Clear Channel has had a clear number-one spot without any real compeition.
On the sports side, despite being so closely linked to the launch and distribution of the CBS Sports Radio Network, Dickey said he needed play-by-play because it's in such high demand. By purchasing Dial Global, Cumulus gets access to the NBC Sports Radio Network, the NFL, and the NCAA. Obviously the most important piece of programming in the sports package is the NFL because of its popularity. The NFL contract runs almost to the end of this decade. ESPN has dominated the sports category for a long time. In addition to the most popular syndicated sports morning show, Mike and Mike, ESPN has the rights to MLB, including the All-Star Game, playoffs, and World Series; NBA, including the All-Star Game, playoffs, and finals; and, for the first time, out-of-market Sunday afternoon games -- starting Sept 8 at 1 p.m. with Tennessee at Pitt. Also not to be forgotten is Fox Sports Radio, syndicated by Premiere.
Dickey says this is a win-win across the board. "Cumulus is now a strong content provider, creator, and producer." He expects both the Townsquare and Dial Global deal to close in November. Purchasing Dial Global is contingent upon Townsquare closing on the stations it's purchasing from Clear Channel.
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