The winter book isn’t always kind to the sports radio format. Although stations may remain atop the ratings ladder with Men 25-54, shares tend to decrease during this period due to the sports calendar offering less compelling content and a reduction in important games.
For many programmers, the fall is seen as sports radio nirvana. It produces the NFL and CFB regular seasons, the conclusion of the MLB regular season, the MLB Playoffs and the World Series, the return of the NBA/NHL/CBB seasons, not to mention other content hits such as MLB Free Agency, the Heisman Trophy winner announcement, and other unexpected twists and turns.
Although January offers its share of excitement between CFB Bowl games and the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl, once the NFL season expires, February and March become a bigger challenge. Stations try to drum up interest in the remainder of the NBA/NHL seasons, spring training, the NFL Draft combine, NFL free agency and the NCAA tournament, and some may experience success but as a whole, the format dips because those events don’t produce the same must-listen enthusiasm from local audiences.
Regardless of those difficulties, staying competitive and maximizing listening opportunities is critical for sports radio brands. In looking at the winter numbers from a number of markets across the nation, a healthy number of stations turned in impressive results. A few weren’t as fortunate. Nonetheless here’s the information we’re able to pass along.
The big story was The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 FM ESPN NY defeating WFAN in PM drive for the first time in 13 years. Kay’s program finished 8th, two tenths of a point in front of The Fan’s CMB which came in 10th. WFAN did earn head to head victories in mornings and middays. Boomer & Gio were 7th with a 5.1, a little more than two full points ahead of ESPN Radio’s Golic & Wingo which airs on ESPN New York and finished 14th. Joe & Evan turned in a 6th place finish by generating a 4.8, doubling ESPN NY’s Humpty & Canty.
The meters were kind once again to ESPN LA 710. The station remained the top rated sports station in the city of Angels. In the M-F 6a-7p demographic, 710 won the quarter against top competitor AM 570 LA Sports. The station also earned wins in mornings between 6a-9a with Keyshawn Johnson, Jorge Sedano and LZ Granderson defeating 570’s airing of The Dan Patrick Show. From noon to 3p Mason and Ireland remained in front of 570’s Roggin and Rodney. In fact, two full ratings points separated the two shows. The afternoon battle saw a similar story with the combination of Mason and Ireland and Marcellus Wiley and Travis Rodgers besting Petros and Money. The overall numbers for the quarter were not high but LA doesn’t produce the big sports radio shares that we see in other major markets.
670 The Score shook up its lineup in late March, so the new shows are yet to be measured for a full quarter, but for those who are no longer part of the station’s weekday plans, they can at least take solace in the fact that they finished up strong. The winter book found The Score ahead of their market competitor ESPN 1000 in a number of categories. Among Men 25-54 in the M-F 6a-7p demographic, The Score finished nine tenths of a point ahead of ESPN 1000. One year earlier they trailed their competitor by two tenths of a point. In the M-F 6a-7p demographic a similar story occurred. 670 finished a little more than a point ahead of 1000. Last year at this time 1000 was six tenths of a point ahead. In the head to head battles, The Score gained wins from Mully and Hanley (7.5, 1st) over Golic and Wingo (3.2, 13th) in mornings and Spiegel and Parkins (5.1, 4th) over Kap and Company and 1-hour of Carmen and Jurko. ESPN 1000 remained ahead though between 1p-6p led by an hour of Carmen and Jurko and a strong four hour effort from Waddle and Silvy. The station’s two shows combined to deliver a 5.2, 3rd place finish, seven tenths of a point ahead of Bernstein and Goff which turned in a 4.5, good enough for 5th place. As is the case during most quarters, sports radio in the windy city remains alive and well.
There was cause for celebration on both sides this quarter in the Bay Area. The overall battle was won by KNBR who led most head to head categories, but 95.7 The Game had plenty of reason to feel optimistic too. Starting with M-SU 6a-Mid, KNBR’s 6.3 was strong enough to secure 2nd place. The Game was also formidable, producing a 5.1 to come in 3rd. In the M-F prime 6a-7p slot, KNBR was 2nd again with a low 7 share. The Game also held the same ranking, finishing 3rd with a high 5 share. Mornings were competitive too with Murph and Mac besting Joe, Lo and Dibs. However, the race has definitely tightened. KNBR was 2nd, and The Game 3rd, with only one point separating the two brands in AM drive. Looking at weekdays 10a-1p, Garry and Larry remained KNBR’s strongest rated show, generating an impressive 8.4. The duo were two and a half points better than The Game’s rotational midday show and 1-hour of Greg Papa. That said, The Game had nothing to apologize for, they ranked 2nd at just under a 6 share. Between the hours of 1p-3p, Fitz and Brooks occupied 1st place with just under a 7 share. The Game’s Greg Papa was 2nd with a respectable 5.6. In afternoons, it was another close call as Tolbert and Lund defeated Damon Bruce. The KNBR drive time duo produced a 6.8, which helped them lock up 2nd place. Bruce wasn’t far behind, claiming 3rd with a 5.5. The Game did earn a victory in evenings, thanks to another strong showing by the Golden State Warriors. The Game was 7th with a high 4 share. KNBR was 10th in the mid 3’s. Anyway you slice it, this is a great showing for two superior sports radio brands in a market which continues to become more invested in local sports talk radio.
An Eagles Super Bowl appearance, victory and parade was exactly what Philadelphia sports radio needed to ride the wave to the finish line. For Sports Radio 94 WIP the news was especially sweet as the station not only delivered massive shares among Men 25-54 but with the overall 6+ audience too. For the full week WIP was 2nd with 6+ just three tenths of a point away from first place. With Men 25-54 they placed 3rd with a 9.4. Local competitor 97.5 The Fanatic was also strong with a high 5 share. Turning to the weekday shows, Angelo Cataldi continues to be the cream of the crop in the market, finishing 1st with 6+ at a 9.5 share. In the target demo of Men 25-54, Cataldi was 2nd with a 12 share. The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano was much further behind delivering a 5.8. In Middays, WIP saw Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie finish 3rd with a low 9 share. The Fanatic’s Harry Mayes and Jason Myrtetus produced a similar number to Gargano. The most competitive battle occurred in afternoons where Jon Marks and Ike Reese’s first book included a ratings win over The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli. Marks and Reese were 3rd with a mid 8 share. Missanelli was six tenths of a point behind.
One thing to take into account as told to Philly.com by The Fanatic’s program director Eric Johnson, if you remove the streaming numbers from the conversation, WIP wins the afternoon ratings matchup. If those numbers are added though, the story changes.
“They surely do win when you take the stream out of it, but in 2018, you can’t take the stream out of it,” said Johnson. “You write what you want to write, but I’m still saying Mike Missanelli beat WIP.”
WIP’s PD Spike Eskin says Johnson’s take though is misleading because the way the data is collected by Nielsen is designed to measure radio ratings, not streaming numbers.
“That’s not me dismissing the importance of the stream. What I’m dismissing is the notion that you would measure it using a radio rating. I’m very confident if you were to compare our actual streaming numbers to our competition in the afternoon, it would show that we have a clear advantage.”
The winter book produced results that 92.9 The Game can feel good about. The radio station finished in the Top 5 with Men 25-54 in both drive time spots. John Fricke and Hugh Douglas were 5th in mornings with a 5.6. Carl Dukes and Mike Bell finished was 3rd with just under a 7 share in afternoons. Overall the station finished 4th with Men 25-54. For market competitor 680 The Fan the news was positive too. Although they don’t subscribe to Nielsen, the station’s decision to move Steak Shapiro, Brian Finneran and Sandra Golden into morning led to an increase in the ratings.
It’s always a game of inches in the hottest sports radio market in the country. Both WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub had reason to celebrate as double digit shares were once again produced by the two exceptional sports brands. As was well laid out by Chad Finn of the Boston Globe, the ratings picture is murky because WEEI programming generates additional ratings in the market on Providence-based WVEI. The station includes those numbers in its total performance. The Sports Hub does not have an additional radio outlet in the market generating additional shares to expand its overall pie.
The Sports Hub won the full week among Men 25-54, finishing 1st with a 12.2. WEEI was second with an 8.2. That number increases to .8 if you include WVEI. In mornings, the matchup between Toucher and Rich and Kirk and Callahan was once again tight. T&R win the battle 12.4 to 11.7 if you don’t include WVEI’s numbers. If you do, K&C prevails 12.6 to 12.4. In middays, Zolak and Bertrand on The Hub were 2nd with an 11.3. WEEI’s OMF were 3rd with a 9.5 or 10.2 if you included the WVEI number. During afternoons, Felger and Massarotti dominated with a 16.6, one of the best numbers in the entire format. WEEI’s Dale and Keefe (which included Michael Holley for most of the book) came in 2nd with an 8.1 or 8.9 if you included the WVEI number. Rounding things out at night, The Hub was 1st with a 12.3 and WEEI was 4th with a 6.8. With WVEI included that position changes to a tie for 3rd and a 7 share.
According to Nielsen, the WVEI number should not be included in the overall ratings for WEEI since the advertising content on both stations is different. However, one can make the case that the audience in the metro area is tuning in to hear WEEI’s shows on the second station and that listening should count.
Regardless, it was another top of the format quarter for both stations.
No Redskins? No Nationals? No problem. 106.7 The Fan continued to flourish in the winter book, making it clear that the personalities and content have become the main attraction for the local sports audience. The station finished 2nd for the full week with Men 25-54, producing just under a six and a half share. The number was two full ratings points higher than last year’s number. In weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) The Fan was also 2nd with an 8 share. They again grew massively year over year, increasing their share by three full points.
The same story existed for the weekday shows. The Sports Junkies were 2nd in mornings just under a 9 share. The show was three and three tenths of a point higher than it was in 2017. Making it even more impressive, the Junkies finished 2nd among Persons 25-54 with just above a 5 share. Grant and Danny received the highest ranking on the station, finishing 1st with Men 25-54 with a high 9 share. Chad Dukes closed things out by placing 3rd in afternoons with just under a six and a half share.
It’s the same successful story in the Twin Cities for market leader KFAN. The iHeart sports radio staton remained dominant, delivering its 6th consecutive #1 finish M-SU 6a-Mid with Men 25-54. Leading the way were The Power Trip, who produced a massive 16 share to come in 1st in mornings. Not far behind though was afternoon host Dan Barreiro who also delivered a 1st place result courtesy of an impressive mid 15 share performance. KFAN continues to showcase itself as one of the highest rated brands in the format.
104.5 The Zone remained the leading sports brand in the market for the winter but 102.5 The Game has started to experience some positive gains too. The Game won weeknights for the first time in station history against The Zone. The rise of the Nashville Predators certainly has factored into that growth. One especially interesting development has been the competitive battle in afternoon drive. 3HL remained ahead delivering a 7.7 for the quarter, but Jared & The GM posted a 5.2, their best number to date. When you consider that just one year ago 3HL produced a 10.2 and The Game was at a 2.5 it’s safe to say the race has tightened.
The consistency of 101 ESPN remained the story as the radio station finished the winter book in 3rd place with a high 8 share. In mornings, The Bernie Miklasz Show generated a 7.4 which was good enough for 3rd place. Middays saw Kevin Wheeler come in 2nd with an impressive 8.6, and The Turn with Anthony Stalter and Chris Duncan produce a 3rd place finish courtesy of an 8 share. The station’s highest rated program continues to be The Fast Lane, featuring Randy Karraker, Brad Thompson and Chris Rongey. The trio were 1st in afternoon drive with a remarkable 11.1.
The first book under new PD Chuck Sapienza was strong for market leader 105.7 The Fan. That’s the good news. The bad news, the company will now expect Sapienza and his team to repeat those results book after book. Overall The Fan was 1st with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p at slightly above a 9 share. That was nearly a full 3 point increase year to year. The Fan was also in the Top 5 with Persons 25-54 at just under a 5 and a half share.
WFNZ continues to lead the market and improve upon its past performance. For the winter book the station placed in the Top 10 with Men 25-54 with a 3.2. The station has increased its share by nearly a point and a half year to year. Earning special consideration this quarter was The Mac Attack with Chris McClain and Travis ‘T-Bone” Hancock. The entertaining duo were 6th for the winter book with a 3.6. In the month of March alone, the show tied for 5th with a 5.1, an increase of three times their March 2017 performance. Continuing with their growth story, Mac and T-Bone’s overall share for the winter book has doubled year to year.
NFL free agency, a Lightning playoff push and the return of Rays baseball conversation led to some nice gains for WDAE with M25-54. JP Peterson spent the March book away from his 12p-3p show with Ron Diaz, filling in for Steve Duemig, and his presence in afternoons helped the station see solid gains month to month. The station’s morning show, Ronnie & TKras, also saw nice month to month growth with half share increases in both M25-54 and M35-54.
It was another big quarter for 92.9 ESPN. The radio station was #1 with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p with a low 9 share. Looking at the local dayparts, Geoff Calkins was strong as usual, finishing 1st with a little above a 10 share. Jason and John were also #1 with a low 12 share. The overall performance stumbled a little during Eric Hasseltine’s show. However, the program still produced a respectable high 6 share which placed it 6th. Closing things out in afternoons, Gary Parrish was just under a 10 share which was strong enough to place the show 2nd.
The big story to pass along from the winter book, The Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan proved that their prior performance atop the ratings charts was not a one-hit wonder. The talented duo remained dominant, finishing 1st with Men 25-54 with a 12 share.
Two noteworthy items to pass along from the market’s top rated sports radio brand 104.3 The Fan. The station placed third overall with a 5.7. In afternoons, The Drive with Big Al and DMac finished 1st with a low 8 share.