Red Sox radio contract in flux


The Boston Red Sox and radio station WEEI are currently in the process of discussing a new radio contract.

The Boston Red Sox are the only game (baseball) in town and have been since the Braves hustled out of Boston and started their nomadic journey by going to Milwaukee. That left the market firmly in the paws of the Red Sox and they responded with a series of awful teams before getting new life in 1967.

In 2006, the only game in town with sports radio was WEEI (93.7). They had the market and they had the Red Sox with a contract that was $200 Million spread over ten years. And in radio that is an incredible commitment and disaster can happen and it did.

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The economy went sour with the latest “Great Depression,” the Red Sox also went sour, radio habits changed considerably and finally the real crusher was competition in the form of 98.5 – The Sports Hub. As the ratings slid for the Red Sox and on-air programming, so did the bottom line at WEEI – which saw substantial changes both in front and behind the mic as they attempted to resuscitate the station.

The current head honcho at ‘EEI, Paul Zachary, is now in discussion stages with the Red Sox over a new or revised contract. There have been some significant changes with on the air personalities – I will not use the term “talent” when discussing sports radio – and the moves have at least performed radio triage on the station. Zachary has also signed a new contract to continue at ‘EEI after stabilizing the floundering ship.

So where do the Red Sox stand?

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The one option mentioned is what several other teams do – give the Red Sox the air time and all the revenue is in their mitts. Sounds strange, but, hey this is the media and strange is normal. And that revenue is usually based on “rating books” and, quite naturally, the higher the ratings the higher the fees.

The Red Sox already have experience in broadcasting since they are the principal owner of NESN. On the ownership list is one Tom Werner who has dabbled a bit in media with a long list of successful TV shows that his company produced.

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The Red Sox can also potentially shop around for another partner in the radio world. Through the years, the Red Sox have drifted from station to station depending upon the great convincer – money.