One of the first observations of those familiar with the South Florida market after LeBron James' announcement was what impact it would play in elevating the Heat in the local sports hierarchy. Since their arrival in 1966, the Dolphins had been the cream of the crop. I won't get into detail, read about it from me here and from Surya here. Anyway, we all knew the battles would come. Would it be who would sell season tickets easier? Heat won that. Who dominated the front pages of the newspaper? Dolphins win that, but the regular season has yet to begin, and the Heat have gotten more preseason play from the local media than it ever has. But those are regular battles. When would something new come up to pit the two organizations against each other? Well, we have our answer. Let's let the Queen of Disco tell us: Yup, it's on the radio. And yup, I just subjected you to Donna Summer. What, you're too cool for disco now? From the Hollywood Reporter report:
According to the complaint, the team's two-year-old broadcast rights agreement with Clear Channel specifies that if another Florida sports team was granted a rights agreement, the Heat would be entitled to an equivalent package. After Clear Channel locked up the Dolphins to a contract earlier this year, the Heat allegedly asked to see the deal. Clear Channel allegedly refused to hand over a copy, citing confidentiality concerns. During the summer, the parties continued to argue, and eventually in July, Clear Channel is said to have handed over its agreement with the Dolphins. Heat execs didn't like what they saw. According to the lawsuit, Clear Channel's agreement with the Dolphins granted the team broadcast rights on WBGG-FM as well as WINZ-AM, plus the right to sell advertising. The broadcaster allegedly also gave the Dolphins two hours of pre and post-game time whereas the Heat only got a half hour. The Heat claim Clear Channel also gave the Dolphins rights to create other shows such as twice weekly specials devoted to interviews with coaches and players, as well as an HD channel centered on the Dolphins. Other considerations were allegedly made, including outdoor promotions, public service announcements, charitable events and rights fees that were more favorable to the Dolphins.I think Clear Channel gout caught not thinking forward twice in this situation. When they picked up the rights to the Heat two years ago, I don't think they properly factored in the chance that they could also get the rights to the Dolphins (even though Clear Channel has about as close to a monopoly as you can have without Teddy Roosevelt rising from his grave. I also don't think they thought there would come a time that the Heat could ask for comparable terms to the Dolphins and not get laughed into Biscayne Bay. But a decade of below-average play wears on even the most prestegious of brands. And LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will draw a few people to their radio dials, even if I personally thinklistening to basketball on the radio is about as fun as listening to golf on the radio. What's going to come of this? The Heat are probably going to get a better deal. Are they going to get four hours of pregame before each game? No, that would be madness. The Heat will probably get better terms and a little cash to sign on some dotted line. But the fact that the Heat would have the intestinal fortitude to march into this kind of battle against the town's King shows you exactly what kind of shift is happening beneath our feet.