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New CBS Radio deal could mean more concerts at Wrigley

Updated: June 5, 2014 11:15PM

Maybe the most significant part of the new seven-year broadcast deal with CBS Radio is the expanded, “50-50 partnership” on concert staging and overall event promotion, which figures to increase the number of concerts at Wrigley Field and includes concert dates at the new spring ballpark in Arizona.

It’s an element that makes the CBS deal an “apples to oranges” comparison to WGN’s deal, according to CBS Radio marketing manager Rod Zimmerman.

And while adding significant potential value to the overall deal for both sides, it also provides the Cubs with a potential shelter for some of their local revenue from the MLB revenue-sharing system into which the Cubs have historically been a large contributor.

Neither the team nor the network have made the breakdown of the rights deal public. But depending on how much of CBS Radio’s contribution is tied to the concert/events promotions part of the deal, the Cubs might be able to demonstrate no increase in rights fees and thereby avoid a one-time uptick in revenue calculations for a “new broadcast adjustment” as outlined in the revenue-sharing system.

Because the concert business would seem “wholly unrelated to the business of Major League Baseball” and related only to the fact the Cubs own a stadium, it would be exempt from revenue-sharing calculations, according to language in the collective bargaining agreement.

Business president Crane Kenney highlighted the elements of the deal beyond simply broadcast rights during a news conference Thursday.

That includes marketing possibilities for the Cubs across the CBS Radio family’s seven stations that covers 65 percent of local market demographics: “A power we’ve never had to promote tickets and everything else we do here.”

And that, of course, includes non-baseball events and concerts.

“Nobody in Chicago has more access to more talent and the top artists than CBS Radio,” said Kenney, who added he anticipates concerts “across all music genres.”

Zimmerman said a recent concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center as part of a CBS rights deal with the NBA’s Nets was promoted across 126 stations in 26 regional markets.

As for the broadcast portion of the deal, CBS Radio executives said the Cubs will air almost exclusively on 780-AM, with sister station 105.9-FM remaining an all-news station, without simulcasts of the Cubs.

However, conflicts with Bears games would shift the Cubs to the FM station, Zimmerman said.


Twitter: @GDubCub

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