Thu. Aug 16th, 2018

The Sports Radio Spring Ratings Report

The Spring book is out which means some are cashing bonus checks, and others are adjusting their strategies to place themselves in stronger position for the summer. Unlike the winter book, which tends to slow down the format, the spring book often provides a boost thanks to the return of baseball, the buzz surrounding the NFL Draft, and the NBA and NHL playoffs.

As you read this piece, understand that we try to offer an informative look at how sports stations are performing in the key demo of Men 25-54, and in some instances we’ll share some other great stories as well. However, not all brands or markets make their stories available. If you don’t see something listed, it’s likely that we simply didn’t have enough information to highlight their story or offer additional analysis on it.

Now here’s what we can share this quarter for the sports talk format.

New York:

Mike Francesa returned and immediately picked up where he left off. The New York radio legend’s first two months in afternoons (3p-6:30p) found him rated #1 with Men 25-54. Mike delivered a 6.8 in May and a 6.4 in June. For the full book, The Fan’s afternoon slot ranked 3rd with a 6.0. The results were also strong for 98.7 ESPN NY‘s Michael Kay Show. ESPN NY’s afternoon program finished the quarter ranked 4th with a 5.4, just six tenths of a point behind FAN.

In mornings, the spring provided a better result than the winter did for Boomer and Gio. The Fan’s morning team produced a 5.2 to capture 5th place. Their last book had them ranked 7th with a 5.1. ESPN NY which relies on the network national show Golic and Wingo, placed 12th with a 3.6.

Turning towards middays, CMB seemed to benefit from the move out of afternoons. Carlin, Maggie and Bart saw their numbers increase during the two months they were rated weekdays 1p-3p. They received a 6.2 in May and a 6.4 in June. Joe and Evan on The Fan finished the quarter in 6th with a 5.4. ESPN NY’s Humpty and Canty, which goes up against Joe and Evan and includes radio veteran Dave Rothenberg, came in 11th with a 3.3.

Given the recent headlines surrounding FAN, this was a solid quarter. I’m sure Mark Chernoff would like to see the morning show in the top 3, and Joe and Evan in the same place. The station has experienced those highs in those timeslots before and has the talent to execute. Regaining momentum though in afternoons was needed and Mike Francesa returned and held up his end of the bargain, at least for the first two months. Credit to CMB because despite being placed in a difficult spot, they’ve since settled into a new timeslot and made the most of their opportunity. Now the question is can they elevate higher?

For ESPN NY, Michael Kay’s show has to feel tremendous. Francesa’s return produced immediate interest, as did the start of the NY Yankees season, and although those two components provide a nice lift for The Fan, TMKS was just one ranking position behind and trailing by less than one point. That’s pretty strong. The real focus has to be turned towards 6a-3p where the station isn’t in the same conversation for numbers as The Fan.

Los Angeles:

There wasn’t a ton of data available this quarter from LeBron’s new stomping ground but here is what we can report. The weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) battle was won by ESPN LA 710. The station finished one ratings point ahead of local rival AM 570 LA Sports. 710 also earned victories in all key weekday demos (M-F 6a-10a, 10a-3p and 3p-7p).

Although we enjoy examining the competition between 710 and 570 each quarter, the sports radio format in Los Angeles doesn’t generate the numbers that we see in many other major cities. That said, it doesn’t mean both brands aren’t making money or feeling great about their people. It may be fun to highlight ratings and how the stations compare, but if those involved are reaping the rewards thru large advertiser investments, then the rest is less important.

Chicago:

There’s been much debate about 670 The Score‘s lineup changes, but for the spring book, there’s no denying the station’s performance. The Score won the book opposite ESPN 1000 taking honors for weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) and full week (M-SU 6a-Mid). The Score was a point and a half to two full points ahead of their local rival.

Sizing up the weekday shows, Mully and Hanley were a force to be reckoned with, finishing 2nd with just under a 7 share. ESPN 1000’s Golic and Wingo gained a few tenths of a point from the previous book but still weren’t inside the Top 10. It’ll be interesting to monitor how Brian Hanley’s exit impacts The Score in mornings, at least in the short term.

Turning to middays, Dan Bernstein and Connor McKnight defeated Kap and Company by seven tenths of a point. That’s the good news. The bad news, the show lost share each month during the book, dropping from a 4.8 in April to a 3.6 in June. Whether that’ll be a continuing trend or a blip on the radar will have a lot to say in how the head to head battle between both shows shapes up going forward.

Between the hours of 12p-2p, The Score’s combination of 1-hour of Bernstein/McKnight and 1-hour Parkins/McNeil, finished nearly two points ahead of ESPN 1000’s Carmen and Jurko.

In afternoons, McNeil and Parkins led the way, coming in 4th, seven tenths of a point ahead of Waddle and Silvy on ESPN 1000. Considering this was the show’s first full book, they were opposite a formidable foe, and McNeil was hampered by vocal issues during the early part of the book, that’s positive news. On the flip side, The Score had the advantage of airing 18-20 Cubs games during the quarter, many of which elevated the daytime numbers, so for Waddle and Silvy to be close given the disadvantage is impressive for 1000 as well.

Changing all three weekday dayparts in a short period of time when a brand in the nation’s 3rd largest market is winning a highly contested ratings battle is certainly a curious move, but there’s no shortage of talent on The Score. The station also has a tremendous PD in Mitch Rosen so that makes a difference. If the new shows can find their groove, and the Cubs continue supplying a huge ratings boost, The Score just might be able to pull this thing off. If not, there’ll be a whole lot more debate and discussion on the station’s overhaul.

For ESPN 1000, it’s about weathering the storm of baseball season, and getting to the fall when the play by play advantages are less difficult to overcome. Given past history, they should continue to push 670 every step of the way. If some of The Score’s changes give listeners a reason to tune out, 1000 will be ready to capitalize on those opportunities.

San Francisco:

The greatness of the Golden State Warriors has drawn a lot of attention to something that many in the market already knew, Bay Area sports radio is pretty damn good. For the spring book, another Warriors championship, and the return of Giants and A’s baseball elevated the performance of both KNBR and 95.7 The Game. It was KNBR though who gained bragging rights, winning the weekday prime and full week competition.

Mornings have become much closer, but Murph and Mac were able to once again defeat The Game’s Joe, Lo and Dibs. KNBR’s morning show was 2nd overall for the quarter at just below a 6 share. The Game came in 6th, one tenth of a point under a 5 share. One positive for The Game this quarter, they won the head to head matchup in the month of May, a first in station history.

In middays, Gary and Larry remained dominant, finishing 1st with an even 6 share. The Game had plenty to celebrate though too, placing 3rd with just above a 5 share. One difference during the 10a-1p hours, The Game airs two-hours of Matt Steinmetz and Daryle “The Guru” Johnson, and 1-hour of The Greg Papa Show. For Gary and Larry, they have now started off the 2018 campaign with back to back 1st place finishes.

Another good battle continues to take place between the hours of 1p-3p. KNBR’s Fitz and Brooks won the head to head matchup against Greg Papa by 1.3 points. KNBR’s program ranked 1st for the quarter. Papa occupied 2nd place.

Afternoons saw KNBR’s Tolbert and Lund finish in front of The Game’s The Damon Bruce Show by 1.3 points. Tolbert and Lund were ranked 2nd for the quarter. Bruce turned in a very respectable 3rd place finish.

Where The Game gained a win was in evenings. The Warriors success was the main catalyst for lifting the station past KNBR’s combo of San Francisco Giants baseball and Drew Hoffar and Kevin Frandsen. The Game finished a half point ahead M-F 7p-12a with Men 25-54.

If you’re trying to play the game of winners and losers, you’re going to favor KNBR since they won all of the prime matchups, but this is a race that’s become a whole lot tighter. More importantly, both brands are now thriving.

KNBR had to be thrilled with earning #1 rankings with both midday shows, and seeing their drive time programs rank 2nd. The Game meanwhile can take pride in having three of their weekday programs finish in the Top 3, and their morning show win one month opposite a tough competitor. There’s much to celebrate on both sides, and a whole lot of money to be made for both sports stations in the Bay!

Dallas:

105.3 The Fan in Dallas had plenty to celebrate in the spring book. The station placed 4th in prime with a mid 5 share. Making all involved feel even better was consistent Top 5 performances from each of the station’s weekday programs.

In mornings, Shan and RJ finished the quarter in 3rd place. GBag Nation occupied the 5th spot in middays. Rounding things out in afternoons were Ben and Skin who also enjoyed the 5th place position.

Year to Year, The Fan has experienced nice gains with its AQH rating in both Men 25-54 and Persons 25-54. It’s also continued to lead the charge among Men 18-34.

No data was available for The Ticket.

Philadelphia:

There were positives to share inside both buildings this quarter, but when WIP and 97.5 The Fanatic are involved in a battle for ratings supremacy, competitive juices are going to flow. For The Fanatic, their big win was regaining the lead in afternoons with Men 25-54. Mike Missanelli lost to Jon Marks and Ike Reese in the winter book, but he regained the top spot in the spring by five tenths of a point. Missanelli placed 3rd for the quarter. Marks and Reese came in 4th. WIP did however win head to head among 6+, Men 18+ and Adults 25-54.

Where WIP separated itself from the pack though is everywhere else. Not only has the station excelled in the Men 25-54 demo, but they’ve become a juggernaut in other demos too. Their advantage in mornings has also become impossible to ignore.

Led by future Hall of Famer Angelo Cataldi, WIP won the morning drive battle with Men 25-54 by 7 and a half points. That’s not a misprint. Cataldi is now delivering just under a 13 share, which was good enough to place him 2nd for the quarter. He was also 2nd with 6+ and Adults 25-54, and #1 with Men 18+.

Anthony Gargano and Bob Cooney provided a respectable 5th place result in mornings for The Fanatic with just under a 5 and a half share. The issue facing Gargano though is that many expected him to give Cataldi a run for his money, and for a while it appeared he was closing ground, but that is no longer the case. That said, a top 5 finish in Philadelphia isn’t exactly a bad spot to be in.

In middays, WIP was again victorious thanks to Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie. The Hammer and the former NFL fullback carried the station to a 3rd place finish thanks to an astounding 9.8 share. That number was 5 full points better than The Fanatic’s team of Harry Mayes and Jason Myrtetus which managed a solid 6th place finish. WIP’s midday numbers right now are in a place they hadn’t been previously.

The same story existed for WIP in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) and full week (M-SU 6a-Mid), so it’s safe to say that Entercom Philadelphia executives are feeling good about the performance of their brand thru the first six months of 2018. With the Phillies playing well, and the Eagles gearing up to defend their Super Bowl title this fall on WIP, The Fanatic has a serious headache and a shortage of Advil. Missanelli has proven WIP isn’t invincible, and a huge run by the 76ers and Flyers would certainly help, but the bigger issue is finding a way to close the gaps in mornings and middays. Until they can do so, the local ratings stories are likely to favor WIP.

Houston:

What a difference a year makes! In 2017, Sports Radio 610 led the spring book among Men 25-54 by three tenths of a point over SportsTalk 790 and seven tenths ahead of ESPN Houston 97.5. Twelve months later and we have a new leader in the numbers.

ESPN 97.5 won the quarter by three tenths of a point over 610, and four tenths above 790. 610 and 790 actually gained ground year to year. 610 was up one tenth. 790 increased their share by three tenths. That paled in comparison though to 97.5 who doubled their performance from a 1.1 to 2.2.

It’s worth pointing out that 97.5’s increase during the past six months has come after the station added Lance Zierlein and Charlie Pallilo to its lineup. One beneficiary of those moves has been the station’s afternoon show with A.J. Hoffman and Fred Faour, which had always held its own, but is now gaining some extra tune ins. The afternoon show has been the top rated program in the market with Men 25-54 for the past six months. How will 610 respond to that? That’ll be something to keep an eye on.

One additional item to pass along, Gow Media, the owner of 97.5, also began simulcasting 8 hours of the station’s programming on Sports Map 94.1. Since doing so, 94.1 has gone from not delivering a rating, to showing up in the report.

Washington D.C.:

New Market Manager Phil Zachary couldn’t have timed his arrival better. He shows up, and the Washington Capitals end their franchise drought of never having won a Stanley Cup. That Caps championship run provided a huge boost in the spring book and the recipient of that incredible journey was 106.7 The Fan.

For the first time ever, The Fan beat WTOP (News/Talk) in weekday prime (m-F 6a-7p). They were also just two tenths of a point behind the dominant News/Talk brand for the full week (M-SU 6a-Mid). If you’re unfamiliar, WTOP, led by Market Manager Joel Oxley, is one of the best performing radio stations in the nation with high ratings and revenues. With the President of the United States residing nearby, and political tensions rising on an almost daily basis, it’s pretty easy to see why WTOP’s programming has large appeal in the nation’s capital.

What had to make The Fan’s PD Chris Kinard feel especially good this quarter was that each of his station’s weekday shows produced strongly in their respective dayparts. The Sports Junkies came in 2nd with Men 25-54 in morning drive with just below a 10 and a half share. Grant and Danny finished 1st in middays with just under a 9 share, and Chad Dukes locked up the 4th spot in afternoons with a low 7 share. Even the station’s evenings turned in an impressive 2nd place finish with just over a 7 and a half share.

Year over year, each key weekday demo (6a-10a, 10a-3p and 3p-7p) on The Fan was up 2 full ratings points or higher. The month of June for The Fan was its highest rated month in brand history.

The Capitals championship run, a Wizards playoff appearance, the return of the Nationals, and the interest in the NFL Draft all played key roles in elevating listening this quarter. Perhaps more impressive though is that when interest in sports grew locally due to the performance of the market’s teams, The Fan’s ratings soared, other brands received less support. That further highlights the position the brand and their talent have established with DC sports fans.

Atlanta:

The spring book was soft but still good enough to help 92.9 The Game lead the market’s sports radio competition. For the quarter, the radio station finished 5th in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) with Men 25-54.

Among the highlights for the brand included a 4th place result from the afternoon show, Dukes and Bell. The popular duo delivered a high 6 share to achieve that ranking. Another notable achievement was Andy Bunker‘s evening finish. The night time talk show host turned in a high 6 share to finish 2nd in the book.

680 The Fan has also seen all of their shows increase their shares year over year. The early season success of the Atlanta Braves has definitely been good for business.

Boston:

The spring book once again showcased a competitive matchup between two exceptional sports radio stations, 98.5 The Sports Hub, and WEEI. For the quarter, The Hub earned top honors, with WEEI occupying the 2nd spot.

Perhaps the biggest win for the Hub came in mornings. Toucher and Rich reclaimed the lead from Kirk and Callahan with an eight tenths of a point advantage. If you include WVEI which WEEI programming also airs on in the market, the lead shrinks to four tenths. Either way, Toucher and Rich earned a tough win this quarter.

In middays, the story is a little trickier. WEEI’s OMF and The Hub’s Zolak and Bertrand each could proclaim victory depending on which metrics you’re focused on. Z&B finished four tenths of a point in front of OMF but when WVEI is included OMF goes in front by six tenths. Nonetheless, both shows were close and in firm command of the 2nd and 3rd ranking positions.

The afternoon battle is where The Hub delivered their biggest win. Felger and Massarotti remained the market’s highest rated show, finishing 1st with a powerful 14.7 share. WEEI’s Dale and Keefe did secure a strong ranking position, grabbing 2nd place, but trailed by roughly seven points.

Finishing up in evenings, The Sports Hub’s combination of Celtics playoff basketball, Bruins playoff hockey, and Adam Jones, held off WEEI’s mixture of the Boston Red Sox and Mike Mutnansky by four points. With the Celtics and Bruins off for the summer, and the Red Sox playing great, the next quarter should show a tighter battle in this timeslot.

Phoenix:

A hot start by the Diamondbacks, and the arrival of Josh Rosen were just what Arizona Sports 98.7 FM needed for the spring book. The market’s leading brand generated a mid 5 share, which was enough to place 3rd in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p).

Looking at the local shows, Doug and Wolf came in 3rd for the quarter with a low 6 share. Bickley and Marotta finished 4th in middays with just under a 5 share. The afternoon team of Burns and Gambo delivered a 2nd place ranking with a high 5 share. Evening programming which included DBacks baseball and The Rundown with Luke Lapinsky, also produced healthy returns, coming in 6th with a high 4 share.

There are other local sports radio brands in Phoenix, and their companies may be satisfied with the results they’re producing, but none right now are delivering the ratings that Arizona Sports 98.7 are. Congrats to their team on a strong 2nd quarter.

Seattle:

The spring book bragging rights belonged to 710 ESPN Seattle. The station finished 6th in prime (M-F 6a-7p) with Men 25-54. One particular show which stood out this quarter was the trifecta of Danny, Dave and Moore. The afternoon trio which went thru some challenges in the numbers last year has rebounded in 2018. In the latest book, they were 3rd overall. Year to year 710 has seen its ratings increase by two full shares.

Minneapolis:

It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but KFAN continued its path of excellence once again in the spring book. The top rated Minneapolis sports radio brand finished one tenth of a point under a 12 share with Men 25-54 in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p). For the full week (M-SU 6a-Mid), the station saw a little bit of a dip, pulling in a low 10 share. That said, most brands would kill to be in their position, delivering double digit shares each quarter.

Tampa:

The market’s top rated sports radio brand, WDAE, experienced solid growth among Men 25-54 book to book. The station’s ratings were up 47% M-SU 6a-Mid and 36% M-F 6a-7p from Winter to Spring. Winter of course creates more challenges for sports talk brands, but despite a soft start to the year, WDAE was back on track in the spring.

Year to year each of the station’s shows is up in share. A strong Lightning Playoff push and the return of Rays baseball has contributed to those increases.

St. Louis:

Once again the spring book was strong for local market leader 101 ESPN. The brand finished 3rd overall in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) with Men 25-54. The station’s key weekday shows all delivered in the Top 4 led by The Fast Lane who finished 1st in afternoon drive. The show has consistently placed near the top for approximately 18 months.

In mornings, The Bernie Miklasz Show turned in a 4th place finish. Kevin Wheeler was ranked 3rd for the book in his timeslot of 10a-1p. Closing things out was The Turn with Anthony Stalter and Chris Duncan (Chris has been out for a while dealing with health issues) which came in 4th.

Portland:

Not a ton of data was available this quarter from the Rose City, but here’s one nugget worth passing along. The afternoon team of Isaac and Big Suke on 1080 The Fan dominated in afternoon drive for the spring book among Men 25-54. The show was just above a 5 and a half share, good enough for 6th overall. Rip City Radio‘s tandem of Chad Doing and Travis Demers were 4 ratings points behind and in 18th place. They did however inch in front of 102.9 The Game‘s Bill Reiter by one tenth of a point.

There was one huge positive though for The Game. For those that subscribe to the theory that national shows can’t perform in local markets, The Dan Patrick Show continues to prove that not all markets are equal. Dan and the Danettes once again won the quarter, generating an impressive 6.6 share to finish 4th overall. Their performance was better than 3 full ratings points ahead of Dusty and Cam on 1080 The Fan. Rip City Mornings with Dan and Nigel trailed both shows and finished tied for 23rd.

Baltimore:

105.7 The Fan is on a roll. The Baltimore sports station finished the spring book in 1st place weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) with just under a 9 share. It was the first time in a long time that the station had gone back to back books ranked #1 in the Men 25-54 demo. Another highlight included The Big Bad Morning Show, featuring Rob Long, Ed Norris and Jerry Coleman, finishing 1st overall for the book. It was the popular trio’s first experience leading the market in the male demo. They produced an outstanding 10 share to lead all local brands.

Charlotte:

No Hornets playoffs games. No Panthers football. No local baseball team. No problem.

Despite those challenges, WFNZ continued to lead the pack among local sports radio brands. Perhaps most importantly, the station increased its share by three tenths year to year, highlighted by a five tenths of a point uptick in the month of June.

Among the local shows, The Mac Attack continued to roll, delivering just under a 3 share, which was an increase of more than a full point year to year. Middays, which featured Chris Kroeger and a rotating cast of hosts after Kroeger left to become the new radio voice of the Charlotte Hornets, remained flat with just above a 2 share. The first book in afternoons for Garcia and Bailey (they started during the first week of Maywas solid with shares just above a two and a half.

With football season on the horizon, and a new midday show expected soon, Charlotte’s sports radio leader should be well positioned for the remainder of 2018.

Salt Lake City:

What used to be a fun race to analyze between three solid brands, has turned into a 2-brand race. The only issue, one of those brands, 97.5/1280 The Zone, has pulled further ahead and distinguished itself as the clear cut leading in the market.

For the spring book during the hours of 6a-10a The Zone was 2nd with just above a 7 share. That was 4 full ratings points ahead of local competitor ESPN 700. Middays was where The Zone got even stronger, producing just under an 8 share which was also good enough for 2nd place. 700 was 5 and a half points behind during that time period. The same story existed in afternoons too, where The Zone finished just above a 6 and a half share, 4 and a half ratings points in front of 700.

Nashville:

The local rivalry between 104.5 The Zone and 102.5 The Game has become a fun follow the past year or so because the race has become closer than it had been in previous years. That said, The Zone still occupies the driver’s seat, although that lead isn’t as massive as it once was. Whichever side of the aisle you sit on though, there’s plenty to feel good about in the latest book.

Among the notables to pass along, The Zone saw solid gains year to year and month to month in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) and among their weekday shows. In the last two months alone, the Wake Up Zone picked up 1.4 points, Midday 180 improved by 1.2 points, and 3HL gained 1 full point. The station’s overall prime number was also 1.1 points higher, just under an 8 share.

On the other hand, The Game had plenty of reason to feel excited as well. The spring book represented the station’s best quarter in its seven year history, and the month of April was the brand’s best overall month. Stealing the headline for best performance on the station was Jared & The GM who delivered better than a 5 share in afternoon drive for all 3 months, including an impressive 5.7 number in the month of April.

Given that just two years ago these two brands were separated in the month of April by 10 full ratings points, it’s become a much closer competition. The real winners are Nashville sports radio fans who now have two great options to choose from when deciding where to invest their listening time with local sports radio stations.

Memphis:

92.9 ESPN continues to dominate the Memphis sports radio scene. The station has consistently played in the top 3 with Men 25-54, turning in strong shares. The spring book saw the station turn in performances between 7.4 and 9.2 for the three month period.

As far as the station’s programs are concerned, Golic and Wingo‘s national program led off the day with a healthy top 5 finish for the quarter. Mike and Trey increased their growth each month, rising from 5.2 in April to 7.3 in June.

When the station goes local, they see an even bigger spike. Geoff Calkins turned in three month shares ranging between 8.4 and 10.4. He’s averaged being #1 for the past year during his timeslot of 9a-11a.

Jason and John then took the reigns from 11a-2p and raised the bar even higher. Not only has their program also averaged a 1st place finish for the past year, but their past three months have seen shares fluctuate between 9.4 and 12.0.

From 2p-4p, Eric Hasseltine took over and produced shares between a 5.8 and 6.6. Hasseltine’s month of June placed him 6th. He’s averaged being 8th for the past twelve months.

Closing things out in afternoons was Gary Parrish. The dynamic Memphis sports talk show host remained strong, turning in shares between 8.7 and 10.7. His full year average finds him 2nd in the market with a share just under an eleven.

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