Cumulus subsidiary Westwood One and NextRadio proponents have struck a deal that they say enables stations to use advertising inventory to fund the radio industry’s payments to Sprint.
Remember back more than a year ago Emmis Communications, acting as a stand-in for the industry, negotiated a deal with Sprint that called for the wireless carrier to embed and activate the NextRadio FM app in a minimum of 30 million devices over three years. In exchange, the industry would provide Sprint with $15 million worth of station ad inventory for each of those three years. At the time, Emmis Chair/President/CEO Jeff Smulyan figured that worked out to about $10,000 worth of ad inventory per station taking part in the effort.
Now, proponents of the effort to activate FM chips in smartphones and other devices to deliver an interactive radio experience say over the past year, broadcasters have been asked to commit either ad inventory or dollars toward the Sprint effort. Radio groups can meet their commitment by providing two minutes per station per day (Monday–Sunday, 6 a.m. to midnight) according to Westwood One, which will sell the spots on NextRadio’s behalf. WWO will then pay the proceeds to Sprint.
Emmis had been handling the Sprint payments, but that was a lot of work, and the plan had been to eventually turn that responsibility over to another entity, Emmis executives had previously told Radio World.
NextRadio proponents feel the participating broadcaster donations will create needed momentum to get FM chips activated in the more than 300 million cellphones on the market now.
“The addition of Westwood One to focus on the sales effort will allow companies to use ROS inventory to fulfill their pledges instead of writing checks,” Smulyan said. “This gives every company an option.”
Westwood One says it’s already working with several station ownership groups. Interested stations may contact: [email protected] or call (212) 419-2926.