The Dallas sports radio ratings for January are in and we’re going to present these numbers by being fair to all parties. Earlier today, the Dallas News produced an article which covered the market’s monthly performances, except they included The Ticket’s streaming numbers in the report. That created a narrative that showed the brands further apart than they actually are.
I don’t have The Fan or ESPN 103.3’s streaming numbers, so to add The Ticket’s numbers to the radio ratings totals is unfair and it creates an impression that there’s a preference in who performs better in the marketplace. As you’ll see from the actual ratings, The Ticket didn’t need to have their performance inflated, it was already pretty impressive.
To be clear to those who work in Dallas, own or operate these companies, or listen to these radio stations, my objective is to present each side’s information accurately. I do this minus any affiliation to either group, and without a rooting interest. I know people inside both companies, and I like many of the shows offered on The Ticket and The Fan.
My only concern is to make sure that the right story is being told for sports radio stations. If we’re going to add streaming numbers into the conversation (which is something that should happen in the future) then it has to be presented from all brands not just one. Otherwise you have a very lopsided story which doesn’t accurately reflect each station’s performance.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here is how things stacked up M-Su 6a-Mid among Men 25-54.
- The Ticket = 5.3 (3rd)
- The Fan = 4.7 (5th)
- ESPN 103.3 = 2.8 (14th)
When you analyze M-F 6a-7p which is when both stations feature their best talent and content, the story looks like this:
- The Ticket = 6.7 (2nd)
- The Fan = 4.0 (6th)
- ESPN 103.3 = 2.7 (15th)
As you can see, The Ticket had a great month overall. Now let’s take a look at how each brand did in their respective dayparts.
- The Ticket (Musers) = 9.2 (1st)
- ESPN 103.3 (Mike and Mike and 1-hour of Dan LeBatard) = 4.1 (5th)
- The Fan (Shan and RJ) = 3.9 (6th)
*** The Musers delivered a dominant performance. They had the highest performance of any show in the market and have paved the way for The Ticket to have massive success. For ESPN 103.3 they’ve got to be ecstatic about finishing 5th and ahead of The Fan. I’m sure the folks at CBS Dallas weren’t thrilled coming in 6th and seeing their morning show behind the other two stations.
- The Ticket (Norm/Donovan and BaD Radio) = 5.4 (4th)
- The Fan (G-Bag Nation) = 3.9 (7th)
- ESPN 103.3 (ESPN Radio and Dennis & Friedo) = 1.9 (19th)
*** Overall The Ticket has to be pleased. They’ve bounced back in middays to take a nice lead on G-Bag Nation. Is the addition of Donovan Lewis making a difference? For The Fan, they’ve won this battle before so it shows that they have the talent to do so. The question going forward is will it be a one-month slide or a continuous trend? The one positive on their end is that they didn’t lose audience going from mornings to middays whereas the other two stations did.
- The Ticket (Hardline) = 6.1 (1st)
- The Fan (Ben & Skin) = 4.4 (5th)
- ESPN 103.3 (Cowlishaw and Mosley and ESPN Radio) = 2.5 (17th)
*** A strong month for The Hardline, who came in #1 and gained 7 tenths of a point from middays to afternoons. Great job by The Ticket’s afternoon crew. At The Fan, they too have to be satisfied as Ben and Skin produced a Top 5 finish and added a half a point from middays to afternoons. For ESPN 103.3 they regained some momentum that disappeared during the middays but they’re also a point and a half lower in afternoons with a local program than they are in mornings when they provide a national show. Given though that Cumulus operates The Ticket and ESPN 103.3 and have the #1 rated show in the timeslot, I’m sure that’s not bothering them in the least.
If there are two areas where The Fan should feel good, it’s when you look at their Men 18-34 and Persons 25-54 stories. Many advertisers care more about Persons 25-54 than they do Men 25-54. While the hosts and listeners will focus on the Men 25-54 performance since that’s the demographic that we measure the success of most sports station’s, advertisers have a different focus.
In the current January book, The Fan won the Persons 25-54 battle against The Ticket, finishing with a 3.7 (10th) to 3.4 (13th). They have also grown from a 2.8 to 3.7 over the past twelve months so that’s another positive story to share with clients.
When you examine Men 18-34, The Fan has a distinct edge. If you look strictly at the head to head matchups between shows, The Fan registers a 4.5 (8th), while The Ticket does a 3.2 (12th) and ESPN 103.3 produces a 1.2 (26th). Those numbers are based on M-F 6a-7p.
To summarize, The Ticket had a big month and should feel great about their overall performance. To finish 1st in both drive times and in the Top 4 in middays and win each timeslot against The Fan, when they had lost a few battles in previous months, has to feel invigorating for the members of their staff. Congratulations to the crew at The Ticket on a job well done.
For The Fan, they’ll be in great shape with advertisers due to their Persons 25-54 story, and they’ve got to feel encouraged by the way the younger part of the demo is responding. However, they’ve got to get a bigger lift in mornings, have their midday show rebound, and keep the momentum strong in afternoons where they’re in the Top 5 and have a great program that’s capable of ascending even higher.
For ESPN 103.3, they’ve got a real story brewing in mornings, where Mike and Mike have been well received by the market. If you’re inside Cumulus Dallas, you have two sports radio morning shows in the Top 5 to work with and that’s an outstanding story. The challenges for the brand are when you look at middays, where the numbers are pretty low. Afternoons does a nice job regaining some of that lost momentum but they’re still a distant third behind the other two stations.
So now we move onward to February, which is often a dead period for many brands. The play-by-play benefits will be lower, and great content will be critical for engaging the local audience. Those who do it well, will be sitting in a comfortable spot when the February book is released.