Mike Francesa returned to sports talk radio on WFAN on May 1, but he has insisted that merely was a step in a path that leads to Friday, the scheduled launch date for his new “Mike’s On” app.
“Critics took it as nonsense that that was the reason I came back, but it completely was,” Francesa told Newsday. “It was part of the plan. It was the way that I thought we would best develop and promote the app, which is a big part of what I’m going to be doing.”
Francesa, who initially left WFAN on Dec. 15, is under contract through 2020 and said he does not yet know whether he will stay beyond that. But eventually, he plans for the app to replace radio as his primary media home.
“I don’t want to get held to the date,” he said. “I don’t know what date that will be, but I do envision that I am in this thing for the long term. I intend this to be mine for a very long time.”
Francesa’s new site will be subscription-based and cost $8.99 per month or $98.99 per year. There also will be a free two-week trial for both types of subscriptions. The Friday launch coincides with his annual “Bar A” show on the Jersey Shore.
Francesa expects the content to evolve over time, but initially it will feature a video simulcast of his WFAN show, a Saturday morning college football show and the return of his long-time Sunday morning NFL show.
The element Francesa is most excited by is the ability to offer commentary that could come at any time on any day as events or news warrant.
“One of the most important parts of this, I feel, and the thing that will be a difference-maker, is the ability to have immediacy,” he said. “It could be 2 in the morning. [Aroldis] Chapman blows the game, I put out an alert that ‘Mike’s on in one minute’ and boom . . . That level of immediacy is something attractive and unique.”
Francesa said he also will archive condensed, five-minute versions of interviews done for the app.
When he returned to WFAN, he said he had acquired the rights to old “Mike and the Mad Dog” programs, but he said a deal could not be finalized to include those for “Mike’s On.”
Francesa partnered with his representatives at CAA Sports on the project.
“The look of this thing, which I could not have produced in a thousand years, is beautiful,” he said. “It is so well done. I’ve had nothing to do with any of that. I mean, it’s really top-shelf.”
The challenge will be standing out in a crowded content field, and to do so while his radio show still is on the air, offering fans 3 ½ hours a day of free Francesa.
“In the beginning, it will be a lot of me – mostly me,” he said. “I will drive it. But I think as the years go on I will have more contributors. I am going to sign up people who have expertise in a given subject.”
As an example, he said he would use a mixed-martial arts expert, then gauge whether audience interest justifies that being a topic long term.
“Everybody is going to apps,” said Francesa, 64. “That is the future. So I’m going to be there with my own broadcast entity. If you’re looking for scores, you can get scores anywhere . . . This is a specialty.”
He said the app is for avid fans who want more than what he does on the radio.
“I don’t think I will take anything away from the radio show at all,” he said. “Obviously, this is for someone who wants to get more than just the regular amount of content.”