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In a major sports media move that could be foreshadowing for the company’s future, ESPN New York will no longer broadcast on 98.7 FM at the end of next summer.
The station that carries programs like The Michael Kay Show, DiPietro & Rothenberg as well as games from the Knicks and Rangers, will be AM radio only in addition to digital properties, according to Good Karma Brand. The company owns various ESPN Radio markets after acquiring them in 2021 and is expected to save $12.5 million with the ESPN NY change. Eventually, Good Karma could sell the signal for upwards of $50 million when the lease is up on August 31, 2024.
SPORTS TALK RADIO SHAKE UP
“We’re committed to serving the New York sports fan and with the combination of our AM signal, the ESPN New York App, podcasts, smart speakers, YES and other additional audio and video distribution, investing in an FM signal was not relevant in the way it was a decade ago,” Good Karma Brand’s CEO Craig Karmazin told the New York Post, who first broke the story.
The change could be seen as an example of what may be coming as rumors and reports say that Disney could eventually sell ESPN to another entity. However, Karmazin said that the move has nothing to do with the company’s recent layoffs.
The fact that one of the biggest markets in not only the country, but the world will soon lose ESPN Radio’s FM signal is actually pretty wild. New cars don’t even have AM radio in them. And the shift to apps, just like the shift to various television streaming services, is quickly becoming oversaturated.
There’s actually a legitimate argument to be made that people are shifting back towards talk radio because they want that local element. Music fans don’t really listen to FM radio when they’re driving, but sports fans – especially in big markets? They absolutely do. I know, because I am one of them within the New York tri-state area. Karmazin is banking that those people will move back to the AM dial or stream via ESPN’s digital properties.
Strap in everybody, the next couple of months and years are going to be wild for sports broadcasting as fees continue to go up.