SBJ/March 19-25, 2012/Media

Dial Global boosts NCAA's radio reach

Radio broadcasts of the NCAA tournament are running on more than 500 stations nationally, as well as on new online and mobile streaming outlets, in the event’s first year on the Dial Global network.

Westwood One, which has owned the NCAA’s radio rights since 2003, merged with Dial Global, an audio programming and distribution company, in October. That put the NCAA’s radio rights for the first time in the hands of Dial Global, which has pushed to drive the tournament into more audio outlets that will drive up the audience.

“What we’re seeing is that advertisers want that multichannel distribution,” said Roby Wiener, executive vice president for corporate branding at Dial Global. “They’re on TV, they’re online, they’re activating on-site, and they want that radio extension, too.”

Dial Global’s radio broadcasts of every NCAA tournament game will be distributed via more than 500 radio stations, a slight increase over last year; March Madness Live; DialGlobalsports.com; and Slacker, a mobile app on multiple networks. The same audio broadcast goes to all of those outlets.

The audio broadcast on March Madness Live will be free, whereas the video broadcast requires authentication or a $3.99 fee.

Dial Global does not require a fee from radio stations to carry the games. It gives the stations six to eight minutes of advertising time per game, or about a quarter of the inventory, while Dial Global keeps the rest for its national advertisers.

About half of the NCAA’s 14 corporate champions and partners are advertising on the audio broadcast. Dial Global said that retail, automotive, automotive aftermarket, and tool and home improvement have been the best-selling categories.

“Dial Global built its name on being a strong independent supplier of this kind of programming and Westwood One brought the play-by-play experience and talent,” Wiener said.

The tag on the games is “Westwood One Sports on the Dial Global network,” but the Westwood One name is expected to be phased out over time, putting future product under the Dial Global brand.

Wiener and Michael Schreck, vice president of sports sales and marketing, said NCAA sales received a boost from research done during the Super Bowl last month. Edison Media Research showed that 23 million listeners heard the Super Bowl on one of Dial Global’s outlets.

“That type of research really helps show the value to advertisers,” Schreck said.

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