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Sports is an $800 Million Business


That number comes from Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey, speaking at the Radio Ink Sports Conference on Wednesday. That's a figure significantly higher than any number that has ever been publicly stated by a radio executive. Most have been calling sports a $150 million business for radio. Dickey says $200 million is going to the networks and $600 million is being brought in by local stations. Dickey says the number one reason advertisers are flocking to sports is engagement. "Advertisers can't find enough content like this. It's a safe harbor."

At Cumulus, which has partnered with CBS to roll out the new CBS Sports Radio Network, sports represents 10 percent of the company's billing. At the top of the pack is powerhouse KNBR in San Francisco, followed by "The Ticket" in Dallas and "680 The Fan" in Atlanta.

Dickey went on to tout the popularity of sports and the passion of the fans (listeners). "Nine out of the top 10 highest-rated shows on TV in 2012 were sporting events. The other was the Grammys. Ninety out of the top 100 shows are sports," he said. He added that ESPN receives $6 billion in revenue before an ad is even sold on television because of the fees it charges. "ESPN did a great job pioneering this category. We have to sing for our supper. We are 100 percent advertiser driven." Dickey underscored the popularity of sports on radio by telling conference attendees that sports rights fees (the fees to broadcast games for a pro team) have gone up 60 percent or more.

Dickey also said the local newspaper has been replaced by the local talk show host. "They are now the defacto thought leaders. A lot of news breaks on sports radio."

(10/25/2013 11:29:19 AM)
cNLdB1 I really like and appreciate your article post.Much thanks again.

- NY
(5/21/2013 8:38:23 PM)
Dickey is both right and wrong. In big sports towns like Atlanta, Dallas,Chicago, New York, Philly, and Boston...a sports talk station, powered by 1 or 2 team play-by-play rights, are big billers. Nothing new about that! But in small markets and cities without pro sports, sports talk stations are not always successful. You don't just flip the format to sports, and expect the money just to roll in.

- Bob
(5/16/2013 1:55:00 PM)
Raise your hand if you think he's wrong again. WOW!--Giff

- Dave Giff Fifford

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