Craig Carton’s FS1 show didn’t appear to interfere with his WFAN responsibilities when it launched last year, but money might change that.
According to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, FS1 is interested in owning Carton’s exclusive rights. That means the sports personality could have to choose between WFAN and his Fox Sports’ TV show.
While national TV and local radio aren’t exactly competing mediums, FS1 might believe The Carton Show would experience a ratings jump if they owned his exclusive rights, particularly in New York, where he has built a loyal following. Carton has proven to be a radio ratings magnet throughout his career in New York. In recent books, Carton and his WFAN co-host Evan Roberts have trounced the competition, beating ESPN Radio’s The Michael Kay Show 7.2-2.1 in February.
Marchand writes that Carton’s radio contract is set to expire this year. So at a minimum, FS1’s reported interest in acquiring his exclusive rights with a multimillion-dollar offer puts him in great position to negotiate his next radio deal. But there’s a lot more money in TV than radio, especially with WFAN’s parent company, Audacy, struggling financially in recent years. Since 2018, Audacy has reportedly lost $1 billion. Last August, the broadcasting company was warned by the New York Stock Exchange that it was in danger of being delisted. Audacy’s stock price closed at $0.11 on Thursday.
WFAN’s pockets might not be as deep as Fox’s, but radio can offer more longevity. The 54-year-old Carton can conceivably host afternoons on WFAN for another decade. It’s hard to imagine his FS1 show lasting as long, considering its slow ratings start and the network’s propensity for shuffling its lead-in to Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe. According to the Post, FS1’s The Carton Show averaged just 33,000 viewers per day in March. It’s the show’s best month since launching last September, but still an underwhelming number that doesn’t scream long-term potential.
For Carton, radio always seemed to come first. He earned his chops on radio, has enjoyed more success on radio, and might feel a sense of loyalty to WFAN for giving him an opportunity to jumpstart his comeback after he was released from prison in 2020. But hosting The Carton Show on FS1 from 7 – 9:30 am, followed by his radio show with Evan Roberts from 2 – 6:30pm on WFAN is a grueling schedule, one that sees Carton leave his house at 2:30am and return home around 8pm. And if FS1 is willing to pay Carton more to work less, that could be a tough proposition to pass up.