SBJ/20090316/This Week's News

NFL sticks with longtime radio broadcast partner

The NFL has decided to keep Westwood One as its radio partner, agreeing to a two-year deal worth more than $30 million in guaranteed money, according to several sources. Westwood One, which has held the NFL’s rights for 29 of the last 31 years, also agreed to give the NFL more than $10 million a year in promotional inventory.

In sticking with Westwood One, the NFL rejected bids from ESPN Radio and Sporting News Radio. (Sporting News Radio is owned by American City Business Journals, parent company to SportsBusiness Journal.)

Westwood One was the only bidder to offer guaranteed money, sources said.

Last week, Westwood One shored up its financial position, restructuring its $241 million outstanding debt and ceding control to The Gores Group, which now holds a 72.5 percent stake in the radio company. Westwood One officials met with the NFL shortly thereafter to negotiate their deal. The league had dragged its feet in choosing a radio partner, scared off by Westwood One’s tenuous financial situation, which led to its delisting from the New York Stock Exchange in November.

The delay could hurt ad sales next year in what is already a tough sales market. The NFL’s upfront selling period for next season’s radio broadcasts should have started in October and traditionally runs through March.

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