SBJ/Sept. 23-29, 2013/Media

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  • CBS Radio-Nets deal far more than rights

    In January, just a couple of months before the Brooklyn Nets’ radio rights deal with WFAN was expiring after nine years, CBS Radio President and CEO Dan Mason visited Brett Yormark, CEO of the Nets and Barclays Center, to start renewal talks. Just as quickly as the negotiations started, the two expanded parameters from a simple renewal deal in which the CBS-owned station would carry the team’s games to something much broader.

    The Nets were looking to leverage their ownership of the Barclays Center; CBS Radio was looking to leverage its national platform, which reaches millions of listeners. “Our goal was to look at this more holistically,” Yormark said. “As CEO of both the arena and the team, we already do a lot of cross marketing.”

    The result is a four-year deal set to be announced this week that will encompass much more than the Nets’ radio rights. It includes rights to other events that occur at the Barclays Center — from college basketball games to boxing bouts — and it sets the companies up to co-produce concerts and other events from the arena.

    “The uniqueness of this deal is that it is one of the first that not only involved the team, but involved the arena,” Mason said. “We’re a marketing machine for them to put on more events, and we both share in the success of that.”

    This marks the first deal of its kind that CBS Radio has done, and it is interested in exploring similar deals in other markets where teams also own their arenas. That includes markets such as Boston (Bruins/TD Garden), Chicago (Blackhawks/Bulls/United Center), Detroit (Red Wings/Joe Louis Arena) and Washington, D.C. (Capitals/Wizards/Verizon Center). These are markets where CBS Radio operates sports radio affiliates.

    “Absolutely, we would do this deal with other owners. I believe it is the blueprint,” Mason said. “It’s hard to do this if it’s a one-radio-station deal. But that’s not the case here. It involves multi-stations in one form or another. It would involve all the music stations because they are going to bring the bodies to the venue.”

    The Nets deal comes a little more than a week after CBS Radio agreed to a 10-year, $150 million deal to bring the Yankees over to WFAN. WFAN has an expiring deal with the Mets that is worth $7 million a year, according to various reports.

    The Nets deal runs for four years. The companies would not comment on the deal’s value, but industry sources put it at more than $5 million per year. Mason said it costs more than a strict rights deal, especially considering the added college basketball games and boxing matches, not to mention the event promotions. In addition to the broadcast deal, the sides have a revenue share on new business development and potential to create new revenue streams, so company executives say they are reticent to peg a number to the deal.

    “If you took on the total top line, it would be far in excess of what a straight rights deal would be,” Mason said. “With a straight rights deal, you’re only talking about the sale of advertising from games on the radio. Now you’re talking about concerts. You’re talking about special events. There are fun things you could do.”

    The deal includes college basketball games from Barclays Center that are produced as part of the Brooklyn Hoops presented by Ticketmaster franchise and boxing matches as part of the Brooklyn Boxing powered by Golden Boy Promotions franchise.

    The two also plan to create concerts, as well as other events, ranging from something like a Taste of Brooklyn to a dog show. The two companies would act as co-promoters on these types of events and share the revenue.

    “We didn’t get this type of support in Jersey when we were a tenant in a building,” Yormark said. “It’s incumbent upon me to leverage and grow our base and leverage and grow our brand.”

    As part of the deal, WFAN will carry every game as well as expanded Nets pregame and postgame shows and a weekly show called “Brooklyn Nets Report” that will be carried during the “Joe and Evan Midday Show.”

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