Mike Francesa’s year-old “Mike’s On” app left the paid content business model behind effective Tuesday with the announcement that Radio.com has purchased the app and will turn it into a free site effective Oct. 1.
In fact, the “free” part took effect immediately. Francesa said in an early morning tweet the app would continue to exist in its current form for the rest of September but would lift all charges.
It had cost $8.99 per month or $99 per year, prices widely criticized as too high when they were announced late last summer. Francesa never has revealed publicly how many paid subscribers he had.
He said on the air last October that he might have to give up his app or his WFAN radio show, and if forced to choose would make the app his first priority. Earlier last year he had indicated his return to WFAN was motivated in part by a desire to promote his app.
“There is massive consolidation in this industry,” he told Newsday on Tuesday. “We knew from Day One we would be bought. The question was when. It was a deal too good to pass up.”
Francesa jointly owned the app with the agency CAA.
The move to Radio.com is more seamless than other potential options because Entercom is the parent company of both that site and WFAN, keeping Francesa under the same corporate umbrella.
The question is how the move might affect his future at the station, which has been in doubt since he said last October that his return after a four-month absence had been less comfortable than he had hoped.
Francesa told Newsday that the sale of the app has no immediate effect on his WFAN situation. “Nothing has changed,” he said.
WFAN’s lineup is in flux, with the contracts of its 1-3 p.m. hosts – Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott – expiring at the end of the year.
Add in Francesa’s uncertain situation, and the station has decisions to make over the next several months.
John Jastremski and Kimberly Jones got extensive fill-in work this summer and appear to be the most likely internal candidates for regular daytime slots, but in the short term WFAN likely will seek to reduce a roster that has it paying eight hosts on four shows from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Starting Oct. 1, audio of Francesa’s show – like all WFAN shows – will be streamed on Radio.com. But there will be a separate, free Radio.com site that will feature content that currently is part of his app. That includes video of his radio program and his five-minute morning monologue, and well as appearances in the wake of breaking news off-hours.
“Mike Francesa is a legend, and we are beyond thrilled to bring more Mike to Radio.com, ” J.D. Crowley, the chief digital officer of Entercom, said in a news release.
“Mike has some of the most loyal, engaged fans in all of sports, thanks to his unique ability to build a broad audience with must-listen, highly compelling audio content, always calling it like it is.
"The ability to tap into Mike’s immediate, live reactions to the biggest moments in sports, combined with the vast library of audio and video content this deal brings to the platform, further cement Radio.com as one of the leading digital audio platforms in the U.S. for creators, audiences, and advertisers alike.”