There is no market for sports radio hotter right now than Boston. The work being done by WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub is incredible and it truly is a case of two brands being well positioned for on-air success. That’s helping both CBS and Entercom generate a whole lot of revenue.
In the recent spring book which covers March 24-June 15, the Sports Hub finished 1st M-SU 6a-Mid with an 11.0. WEEI placed 2nd with an 8.1. Making the performance even more impressive is that the Hub was up 2 full points over a 12-month stretch, and WEEI picked up 1.3 shares during that same period.
Toucher and Rich fueled the Hub’s success in morning drive by earning top honors with Men 25-54 with a 14.6. Dennis and Callahan with Kirk Minihane came in 2nd, also in double digits, turning in a 10.5.
Shifting to middays, the Hub’s Scott Zolak and Marc Bertrand popped an 11.8 to finish 1st. WEEI’s Glenn Ordway, Lou Merloni, and Christian Fauria were 4th with a 7.0.
In afternoons, the Hub once again led the pack with Felger and Massarotti delivering a 12.8. WEEI’s Dale and Holley with Jerry Thornton was 2nd at an 8.3.
The one area where WEEI defeated the Hub was in evenings where Red Sox baseball propelled the radio station to a 1st place finish and 9.4 share. The Hub was 2nd with Adam Jones’ show recording an 8.1.
On the surface it’s easy to focus on the Hub’s stranglehold on the top position. They absolutely deserve credit for the success they’ve achieved, and have produced one of the best sports radio brands in America. Mike Thomas and his team deserve the accolades they’ve received for a job well done. In the past year alone, Toucher and Rich have improved from a 10.8 to a 14.6, and Zolak and Bertrand went from an 8.8 to an 11.8. Felger and Massarotti were flat with a 12.8, which is still an insane number.
But while applauding the Hub for their growth, don’t overlook what WEEI has done. The radio station was struggling a few years ago and made some great adjustments which have now made it a much closer two station race. Each of these stations are kicking the crap out of the rest of the market in the battle for Men 25-54, and most sports talkers across the country would kill for WEEI’s performance. They just happen to be pulling in big numbers while squaring off against one of the biggest ratings juggernauts in the country, in a market that can’t get enough sports radio conversation.
Did you know that last spring, these two sports stations combined to deliver a 16 share? This spring they eclipsed that mark with a combined 19 share! It’s hard to believe that they could grow that number even higher next spring but given the way Boston sports radio fans have responded to each of their presentations, I wouldn’t bet against it.
WEEI can take solace in the fact that they produced their highest Spring book performance since PPM measurement went into effect in 2010. The station’s previous best was a 7.1 earned in the Spring of 2012. What I was most impressed by were the increases of the station’s top shows year to year. Dennis and Callahan grew from a 7.5 to an 11.1. Ordway/Merloni/Fauria spiked from a 3.6 to a 6.8. And Dale and Holley climbed from a 6.4 to 8.2. That’s outstanding progress, which Kevin Graham, Phil Zachary and the programming team deserve credit for.
Too often in this industry we highlight the top brand and discredit the competitor, but success isn’t measured simply by who turns in a higher share. Each of these brands are unique, compelling, staffed with incredible talent, and they possess the ability to continue generating higher ratings and revenues. The on-air hosts for each brand will undoubtedly look to best their counterparts book after book, and quarter after quarter, but they also recognize that if they deliver their best effort and choose the right content, it’s likely to be supported by local listeners. That in of itself equals success.