Tuesday, July 29, 2014

WEEI's Minihane gets pulled off the air for a week after Fox pulls its ads from Entercom

Looks like WEEI 93.7's Kirk Minihane's second round of vitriol against FOX Sport's reporter Erin Andrews last Wednesday was enough for Fox Sports president Eric Shanks to pull the plug on all Fox advertising on Entercom's entire national radio station group. Entercom owns 100 stations in 23 markets according to its website. In Boston, it owns five - sports talker WEEI 93.7, ESPN affiliate WEEI 850, news/talker WRKO 680, rockers WAAF 107.3 and WKAF 97.7.

According to boston.com, Fox Sports' Shanks informed Entercom President/CEO David Field that all Fox advertising would be pulled from Entercom stations and no Fox Sports personalities would be permitted to be guests on WEEI. 

Fox Sports upper management - many of whom have wanted to go public with their animus over the comments - had reportedly met on Friday afternoon at the company's Los Angeles offices on how to respond to WEEI after Minihane's second set of comments. That response came Friday with Shanks' letter to Field.

While Minihane's idiotic on-air behavior was absolutely unfunny, unnecessary and way out of line, the local and national media which have been covering this story are overreacting and leaving some important facts out of it. For one, some of WEEI's local advertising accounts by far exceed the entire Fox account with Entercom's entire national portfolio.

The media reports have also neglected to mention that with WEEI taking action to suspend Minihane without pay to please Fox execs, it's also very likely that Fox's advertising would eventually return to Entercom stations.(Ed. Note : this is a standard operating procedure with these type of media boycotts. This is how big corporate execs force each other to play nice in a sandbox.).

In addition, the Globe also reported that the simulcast of WEEI 93.7's morning radio show on New England Sports Network(NESN) is coming to an end after 3 1/2 years sometime in September. The simulcast relationship between WEEI’s John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane will make way for some cheaper NESN-produced sports content, the Globe had learned. Obviously economics is playing a bigger role in this decision as NESN pays WEEI a fee for the right to simulcast the show from 6am and 9am but media conspiracy theorists would argue that NESN brass may have wanted a greater editorial control over content in the wake of Minihane's outburst which didn't sit well with the Red Sox who own NESN and happen to collect a big chunk of Fox's new 8-year $4 billion TV deal with MLB.

While WEEI's recent criticism of Sox's on-field product and Minihane's comments may not sit too well with Sox brass brass — the owners of NESN — and certainly might have been a factor to kill the radio simulcast, the truth of the matter is that the regional sports network has already lost quarter of its viewers compared to last season according to Sports Business Journal. And soft viwereship levels directly translate into unmet revenue projections.

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