WLS-AM 890’s parent company, Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, on Thursday said it has filed motions with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York seeking to get out from under “a handful of extremely unprofitable contracts, including those with the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls” and its deal to operate and eventually acquire Merlin Media’s Chicago stations, WKQX-FM 101.1 and WLUP-FM 97.9.
The most noteworthy implication is that Bulls radio is unprofitable, and is one of just 20 contracts that the media giant will attempt to opt out from even though it has about 15,000 contracts.
In addition to a thin radio audience, the Bulls have suffered in other areas of popularity this season.
For the first time since 2009, the Chicago Bulls don’t lead the NBA in average attendance. This season, the Bulls have averaged 20,538 patrons per game, which is the first time the Bulls have failed to average more than 21,000 fans at the United Center per game since 2005.
Last season, the Bulls had their lowest television ratings since the 2007-2008 season. Perhaps, CSN Chicago’s rebranding to NBC Sports Chicago and expanded pregame and postgame coverage this year could help flip the ratings back in the right direction.
As of yesterday, the Bulls have the ninth-most popular team merchandise, according to NBA.com. Last season, the Bulls were third in this category despite all the awfulness of the “Three Alphas” experiment.
At least marginally, the rebuild has hurt the Bulls financially. Could the dent in his wallet snap Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf out of his complacency?