Fri. May 24th, 2019

Sports Radio’s 2018 Fall Book Report

“The sports radio format closed out 2018 with a number of strong ratings performances.”

In the sports radio business, the months of January and February usually represent a slowing down period. The opposite is true for BSM.

What makes these months chaotic is that we introduce our annual BSM Top 20 series during the week of the Super Bowl. While that’s a key focus, so too is finalizing details for the 2019 BSM Summit. In between those two gigantic projects is finding time to continue listening and providing support to radio clients, writing content, editing podcasts for upcoming releases, and traveling for work related business.

That’s an easy way of saying, we’ve been so damn busy that the fall book report is being released later than I had hoped it would be. Given the interest of industry folks and sports radio fanatics in knowing how brands across the format have performed, I trust this piece will still be of value.

With apologies for the delay, let’s dive into the markets we have data on to see who stood out in the final quarter of 2018.

ATLANTA:

92.9 The Game continued to enjoy success as a Top 5 rated brand in the market among Men 25-54. Atlanta’s top rated sports station finished 5th with a 6.3 share.

 The best performance this quarter came from Dukes and Bell who turned in a 2nd place showing with a 7.5. John Fricke and Hugh Douglas locked up 5th place in mornings with a 6.0. Rick Kamla and John Michaels also placed 5th in middays with a 5 share.

Dickey Broadcasting’s 680 The Fan doesn’t subscribe to the Nielsen ratings but according to the data, the station’s top performing show for the quarter was the morning show led by Steak Shapiro, Brian Finneran, and Sandra Golden.

BALTIMORE:

105.7 The Fan finished the fall book with Men 25-54 in 3rd place, but what really made it special was their overall performance for the full year. The Fan finished 2018 (Jan-Dec) with a 9.4, good enough to occupy the top spot in the market with Men 25-54. Congrats to Chuck Sapienza and his team on a tremendous accomplishment.

For the quarter, the Big Bad Morning Show came in 2nd with Men 25-54 and 5th with Persons 25-54. For the year they recorded a 2nd place overall finish.

Vinny and Haynie meanwhile closed out the fall book with a 2nd place showing with Men 25-54. They were #1 overall with double digit shares for the entire year in middays.

In afternoons, it was a similar story, with Scott and Jeremy wrapping up the quarter and full year in 2nd place. Their shares were also in the double digits for the full twelve month stretch.

BIRMINGHAM:

The new WJOX lineup debuted during the fall of 2018.  Listeners responded favorably to the station’s programming changes as JOX gained 18% in the M-F 6a-7p demo among Men 25-54, finishing #1 overall in the market. Their share increased from a 9 to 10.6. A similar story happened with Persons 25-54 as JOX placed 2nd with a 6 share, up 20% from a 5 share one year earlier. #2  (20% 5.0 to 6.0) year to year 6a-7p. 

The JOX Roundtable which moved to mornings from Middays in March, also experienced growth book to book. The show was #1 with an 11.4 in its first fall in the daypart. That was up from a 7.2 one year earlier.

Three Man Front, which features Cole Cubelic, Aaron Suttles, and Landrum Roberts, also topped the ratings charts at #1 with Men 25-54. In just their 2nd full book together, the show recorded a 9.9 share.

Rounding things out, Paul Finebaum continued to dominate in the market, popping a 10.3 with Men 25-54 to also register a 1st place showing.

BOSTON:

The city of Boston was once again the hotbed for sports talk radio in 2018. 98.5 The Sports Hub closed out 2018 with a strong showing in the fall book, earning a 1st place finish in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) among Men 25-54 thanks to an impressive 10.8. WEEI was strong as well holding down the 2nd position with a 7.8. Both stations enjoyed solid increases from summer to fall.

The battle was closer in mornings where Toucher and Rich finished ahead of WEEI’s Mut and Callahan 10.5 to 10.2. Former morning host Kirk Minihane left WEEI’s morning show during the fall (mid-November) to build his own show for Radio.com. Minihane missed most of the quarter, taking a leave of absence in September to focus on getting treatment for mental health issues.

In middays, Zolak and Bertrand secured a 1st place victory with a 10.5. WEEI’s Dale and Keefe were strong too, finishing just 1 point behind with a 9.4, good enough for 2nd place.

Where The Hub did their most damage was in afternoons. The team of Felger and Massarotti finished 1st with a market leading 15.3. WEEI’s OMF claimed the 2nd spot with a 7.2.

Not to be ignored, evenings belonged to The Hub’s mixture of Adam Jones and Bruins and Celtics play by play. They locked up the top spot with a 10.4 share, ahead of WEEI’s combo of night time programming, and Red Sox baseball which reeled in a 7.7.

CHARLOTTE:

Over the past six months, WFNZ has gained significant traction, improving from a 1.6 (18th) in July to a 3.8 (10th) in December. Clearly football season matters in the Queen City.

Starting with morning drive, The Mac Attack finished the book with a 3.4. Their best month was December where they recorded a 3.6. The show is up a full two points between July and December.

Despite being relatively new to the market, WFNZ’s new midday show featuring Nick Wilson and Josh Parcell cracked the Top 8 in the fall book. The entertaining duo registered a 3.8 during their timeslot, the best number on the station for the 4th quarter.

In afternoons, Kyle Bailey and Frank Garcia held steady with a 3.6. Their best month during the book was December when the show produced a 4.1. Garcia though is no longer with the station.

One encouraging note for WFNZ, the station is on a 4 month streak of delivering Top 3 TSL. The brand was 1st overall in September and November, and 3rd in October and December.

CHICAGO:

670 The Score finished up the year in front of local competitor ESPN 1000. For the full week (M-SU 6a-Mid) The Score placed 5th with a 5.2. ESPN 1000 recorded a 2.8. Weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) saw a similar story with The Score finishing 4th with a 5.8 and 1000 generating a 3.1.

The story of the book for The Score occurred in mornings. The combination of Mully and Haugh popped an impressive 8.5 during the hours of 5a-9a to finish 1st overall.

Unfortunately the morning show’s momentum didn’t fully carry over to the midday show, but Bernstein and McKnight were still good enough to deliver a Top 5 finish at just under a 5 share.

Wrapping things up for The Score was the team of McNeil and Parkins who came in 4th in afternoon drive with a 5.2.

On ESPN 1000’s side, Kap and Company was lower than usual with just under a 2 share. Carmen and Jurko experienced the same fate with a share slightly under a 2 and a half. Waddle and Silvy though remained competitive in afternoons, tying for 6th with a 4.3.

From the outside looking in it appears that 1000 has lost a meter or two. Their talent and shows remain top notch but their numbers aren’t where they’ve been before. Here’s to hoping 2019 brings some extra meter support and a fierce battle between these two great brands.

DALLAS:

One of the most underrated markets in sports radio is Dallas. When you look at the combined performances of The Ticket and The Fan (not to mention the 3rd option ESPN 103.3), they’re competitive with Boston and Philadelphia, and larger in market size, but for whatever reason, the trades don’t put as much focus on what this market delivers.

Well, let’s change that.

The market’s two leading brands, Sports Radio 96.7/1310 The Ticket and 105.3 The Fan occupied two of the top 4 positions in weekday prime with Men 25-54. The Ticket was #1 with an 8 share, and The Fan was 4th with a 5.3. If you add streaming into the mix, The Ticket gains another point, and The Fan picks up an extra two tenths. ESPN 103.3 was further back in 18th with a 2.3.

Moving to morning drive, The Musers claimed the top spot with an 8.5. They pick up another 1.9 points if you factor in streaming. The Fan’s Shan and RJ were also in healthy shape with a 5.2, earning them a Top 5 finish. With the addition of streaming they gain another two tenths of a point. ESPN 103.3 pulled a 2.4 to come in 14th.

Middays is where the tightest competition occurs. Norm Hitzges and Donovan Lewis finished 1st for The Ticket with a 6.5. GBag Nation on The Fan secured 4th place with a 6.1. The Ticket gains another nine tenths, and The Fan picks up three tenths if you add streaming into the mix. ESPN 103.3 turned in a 19th place finish with just under a 2 share.

On the drive home, The Hard Line produced The Ticket’s best overall radio rating with an 8.9, which placed them 1st. The Fan’s Ben and Skin locked up the 5th spot with a 4.6. Both brands pick up a few extra tenths of a point with the added benefit of streaming. ESPN 103.3 recorded its best share during this daypart, generating a 2.6 which put them 18th.

The Fan gained bragging rights during the evening, finishing 4th with a 5.2. The Ticket was 13th at a 3.5. Once again both brands gain a little bit extra with streaming. ESPN 103.3 comes in 16th at night with a 2.3.

To summarize, The Ticket and The Fan account for the majority of sports radio consumption in the market. If you add ESPN 103.3 to the mix, the three stations combine to generate a 15-18 share. That’s outstanding.

Any city which has sports radio stations pulling in those type of numbers is one that advertisers should be looking to attach their clients and dollars to, and media outlets should be paying more attention to.

DENVER:

The fall book was successful once again for Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan. With Men 25-54, The Fan finished 1st overall M-F 6a-7p with an 8.5 share.

Turning to the weekday shows, Schlereth and Evans were strong again in mornings with a 10.5 share from 6a-9a. Big Al and DMac garnered a 9.3 in afternoons between 3p-6p.

Another positive for the brand was the performance of the midday show featuring Brandon Stokley and Zach Bye. The program produced its highest ratings yet at #2 with a 7.5 share.

DETROIT:

The fall book in the motor city couldn’t have been better for  97.1 The Ticket. The radio station finished #1 in Adults 25-54 for the full week (6a-Mid / Mon-Sun) with a 7.5 share. It was also #1 with Men 25-54 with a 12.2 share. That was the best overall performance we received notification about for the sports radio format this fall.

In the individual shows, Jamie & Stoney were dominant in mornings, finishing 2nd with Men 25-54 with a 12.3. They were also 2nd with Adults 25-54 with a 7.6 share. 

The tandem of Karsch & Anderson were even more impressive in middays, recording 1st place finishes with both Men 25-54 (14.5) and Adults 25-54 (9.1).

The Ticket’s homerun hitter in PM drive Mike Valenti took it even one step further, securing 1st place finishes with Men 25-54 (16.2) and Adults 25-54 (9.7).

Simply stated, if you’re an advertiser looking to connect with audiences in Detroit, there’s no way you can afford to not have your message reaching The Ticket’s audience.

LOS ANGELES:

The arrival of LeBron James may be great for ticket and merchandise sales, sponsorship opportunities, and TV viewership, but on the radio it didn’t immediately lead to a massive ratings surge. ESPN LA 710 (which has the rights to the Lakers) did see modest improvement year to year at night, but weekday prime has room for growth. The station did prevail over AM 570 LA Sports (KLAC) by three tenths of a point for the quarter with Men 25-54, however one thing worth noting, ESPN includes their streaming performance in their overall number. iHeart, which owns 570, does not. 

The individual success stories for 710 took place in both mornings and middays. The afternoons though belonged to 570’s Petros and Money. The Los Angeles Dodgers may have helped drive a few tune ins for 570 due to advancing to the World Series and playing a number of drive time games during two of the three months, but 710 also had the national broadcast of the MLB Playoffs and World Series, and an undefeated Rams team boosting its numbers.

L.A. may not produce the massive shares that you see in other sports radio cities, but when you consider it’s position as the nation’s 2nd largest market, and factor in that more than 11 million people reside in the area, a tenth of a point in L.A. can be worth more than in other regions.

MEMPHIS:

Memphis sports radio fans continue to reward the market’s leading station 92.9 ESPN, lifting the brand to a 3rd place finish M-F 6a-7p with Men 25-54 at just under a 9 share.

Looking at the individual shows, Golic and Wingo provided a respectable 6th place finish with a mid 6 share.

From 9a-11a Geoff Calkins produced even greater impact, elevating the ratings by over 4 full points to turn in just under an 11 share, good enough for 2nd place.

Jason and John took the baton from there and grew the audience another half of a point, delivering an 11.3, making them the top rated show in the market during the hours of 11a-2p. They were also the best rated show on the entire station for the quarter.

Eric Hasseltine was next, generating a 7.3 between 2p-4p to claim the 6th spot during his timeslot.

And to wrap things up, Gary Parrish took listeners home in strong fashion, producing a mid 9 share and 2nd place overall finish.

When you add it all up, 92.9 ESPN was Top 3 for the quarter with Men 25-54, had two shows deliver double digit ratings, and three programs finish in the Top 2 including one finishing 1st. That’s a pretty great way for Brad Carson and his team to close out an impressive 2018.

MILWAUKEE:

105.7 The Fan closed out 2018 by remaining the market’s top rated sports radio brand. The radio station finished just outside the Top 10 with a 3 share among Men 25-54 for M-F 6a-7p. The Fan picked up five tenths of a point year over year, and six tenths of a point from summer to fall.

Local competitors The Big 920 and ESPN 540 were both under a 1 share, however Good Karma Brands acquired E.W Scripps’ Milwaukee properties, flipping to FM sports in the market on November 1st. iHeart also took the plunge into FM sports by introducing 97.3 The Game in late November. The Winter book will paint a better picture of how the three FM sports talkers are received by local listeners.

One notable item to relay from the individual shows for the quarter was the performance of Chuck and Winkler. The Fan’s morning show registered a 3.4 to register a tie for 10th. Their ratings increased by 1.2 points book to book and 1.6 points year over year.

NASHVILLE:

104.5 The Zone brought the year to a close with a top notch ratings performance for the fall book. Nashville’s top rated sports station was #1 with Men 25-54 in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p), and 5th overall with Adults 25-54 during weekday prime and the full week (M-SU 6a-Mid).

The Zone also saw its three main weekday shows finish 1st or 2nd in each of their respective dayparts.

Data for 102.5 The Game was unavailable this quarter.

NEW YORK:

The battle in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) once again belonged to WFAN. The Big Apple’s top rated sports station turned in a 2nd place finish with a 5.7. ESPN NY finished in 10th with a 4.3. If you add streaming numbers to the equation The Fan moves up to 1st.

Most of the hype for the fall book revolved around a close finish between Mike Francesa and Michael Kay. At one point it looked like Kay might finally catch the NYC afternoon ratings king, but when the dust settled, Francesa remained on top. If you look solely at the radio ratings for the fall book with Men 25-54, Francesa prevailed by a tenth of a point, beating Kay’s show 5.9 to 5.8.

The contest wasn’t as close in mornings where Boomer and Gio finished comfortably ahead of Golic and Wingo 5.6 to 3.8. Middays saw Joe & Evan retain bragging rights over Humpty & Canty with Rothenberg 5.5 to 3.3. CMB enjoyed similar success cruising past Stephen A. Smith 6.0 to 3.3. Carlin, Bart and Maggie’s share was best of The Fan’s weekday shows for the quarter.

OKLAHOMA CITY:

The Sports Animal had a monster fall book to close out the 2018 campaign. Oklahoma City’s top rated sports talker was 1st overall with Men 25-54 in weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) with a 10.8, and 1st again with a 10.7 when you size up their full day programming schedule from 5a-8p. 107.7 The Franchise was 7th in both weekday prime and during the full day of 5a-8p.

Helping WWLS set the tone were The Morning Animals who produced a dominant 12.2 to claim the top spot in AM drive. The Franchise placed 10th between 5a-9a.

Turning to middays, Craig Humphreys and the Monsters of the Middays were both #1 during their timeslots. Both shows delivered double digit shares. Humphreys was just above a mid 11 share. Monsters was just under an 11 share. The Franchise’s combination of Dylan Buckingham with Todd Lisenbee and The Franchise Players produced a tie for 10th during the midday demo of 10a-3p.

For the drive home, the numbers were strong again for Jim Traber. The afternoon host finished 1st for the fall with a 9.3. When Al Eschback is added to the mix the numbers dip slightly from 4p-8p to 6.8 but they’re still strong enough to retain 1st place. The Franchise meanwhile sees their best success in PM drive. MMM Ranch and the first hour of The Franchise Drive combined to deliver better than a 5 share, good enough to register in the Top 5.

PHILADELPHIA:

There’s no brotherly love in Philadelphia between WIP and 97.5 The Fanatic. The station’s are very competitive and not satisfied with anything less than victory. For the quarter, it was WIP who got to do most of the celebrating, although The Fanatic remained strong in one key daypart.

For starters, WIP was 2nd with Men 25-54 with a little above a mid 8 share. The Fanatic earned a 5th place finish with just under a mid 5 share.

Head to head, Angelo Cataldi continued his dominance in mornings with a 9.1 which placed him 2nd. The Fanatic was tied for 5th with a 5.2.

In middays, The Fanatic closed the gap a little, but it didn’t stop WIP from winning the overall matchup. The team of Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie were 3rd with a mid 7 share, nearly two full points above The Fanatic who placed 5th.

The tide turned in afternoons in The Fanatic’s direction with Mike Missanelli besting the team of Jon Marks and Ike Reese 8.5 to 7.9 with Men 25-54. Missanelli owned the 2nd spot, Marks and Reese were 3rd.

At night, the 76ers, Flyers and Fanatic’s evening programming wasn’t enough to stop Joe Giglio. WIP’s evening host captured the 3rd spot for the quarter with a 6.7. The Fanatic during this period was 8th with just under a 5 share.

A few other interesting tidbits to pass along from the quarter which sometimes get overlooked when focusing solely on Men 25-54.

Beginning with WIP, the station was Top 4 with Persons 6+ and 25-54, which is impressive, but I want to draw attention to their Men 18+ numbers because they were more than 5 and a half points higher than The Fanatic.

This is important to point out because although WIP is the heritage brand that came first in the market, that can sometimes create a perception that the brand skews older. Not only was WIP 1st overall in that demo, but Cataldi was 2nd with double digit ratings, DeCamara and Ritchie were 4th just under a 9 share, and Marks and Reese were 1st at an 8.7. That’s a pretty compelling story for Spike Eskin’s brand.

On the other hand, if you don’t know the ins and outs of how the business works when it comes to ratings, it can be easy to look at WIP’s story and think that The Fanatic is screwed. To steal a line from Lee Corso, not so fast my friend.

Not only did Missanelli continue to win in the important PM drive window, but placing in the Top 5 in mornings and middays is going to result in your sales department generating strong interest from advertisers. I’m sure Joe Bell and Eric Johnson want more, but know they’re in a solid position.

Keep in mind, The Fanatic during this period introduced a new morning show led by Marc Farzetta and Tra Thomas, and shifted Anthony Gargano to middays, losing Harry Mayes in that process. Changes often take time to connect with audiences, so to be in a Top 5 situation while the brand gets its legs under it is a pretty good place to be.

In closing, you’ve got two strong radio stations in a great sports radio market providing a combined 13-16 share, Top 5 finishes with the male 25-54 demographic, and making noise with Adults 25-54. That should be enough to excite advertisers and listeners, and keep both brands hungry.

PITTSBURGH:

The Fall book represented the first full quarterly performance of 93.7 The Fan’s newly shuffled lineup. And the early returns were very positive.

Overall, The Fan ranked 3rd for the week with Men 25-54.  In mornings, The Fan Morning Show with Colin Dunlap, Jim Colony and the newly added Chris Mack registered a 2nd place finish with Men 25-54 and a 5th place showing with Persons 25-54.

In middays, The Cook and Joe Show with Ron Cook and Joe Starkey produced the station’s highest share at 9.4. That placed them third with Men 25-54 and fifth with Persons 25-54.  Those weekly Tuesday visits from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger appear to be good for business.

To round things out, Poni and Mueller (Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller) finished 4th for the fall book with Men 25-54 in afternoon drive. 

SAN FRANCISCO:

95.7 The Game afternoon host Damon Bruce prides himself on being right. But this is one time where I’m sure he’s glad to be wrong. Bruce used to say it was impossible to beat KNBR in the ratings for a full book. Well, that’s no longer the case as 95.7 The Game defeated the sports leader for the first time in the 2018 fall book.

For the full week with Men 25-54 (M-SU 6a-12a) The Game finished 4th with just under a 5 share, seven tenths of a point in front of KNBR who was 6th. The lead widened M-F 6a-7p with 95.7 finishing 3rd at just below a 6 share, a full point and two tenths above KNBR who once again were 6th.

In the individual matchups, The Game’s ‘Joe, Lo and Dibs’ emerged victorious over Murph and Mac. The Game was one point and seven tenths better, coming in 3rd while KNBR placed 6th.

Shifting to middays, Matt Steinmetz and ‘The Guru’ Daryle Johnson were just under a 6 share, coming in 3rd between the hours of 10a-12p. That was two full points higher than Gary and Larry who were 7th. The lead increased even higher when Greg Papa took the air, as ‘The Godfather’ and Bonta Hill produced a strong 2nd place finish with a 6.2, doubling up 1-hour of Gary and Larry, and the entirety of Fitz and Brooks.

Where KNBR bounced back was in afternoon drive. The tandem of Tom Tolbert and John Lund scored a victory for the leader with an impressive 6.2, good enough to finish 2nd. Damon Bruce was also strong, coming in 4th with just above a 5 share.

It took The Game almost 8 years to reach the top of the mountain in the nation’s 4th largest radio market. That said, unseating a great brand like KNBR is a gigantic challenge, and not one that happens quickly. Congrats to Matt Nahigian and his team on their first major victory.

What will be interesting to follow going forward, is whether or not The Game can maintain their success. KNBR isn’t familiar with finishing 2nd so you better believe they’re going to be pushing hard to prove The Game was a one-hit wonder.

With 95.7 having the added benefit of Warriors basketball during the winter months, and Giants regular season baseball games not back on KNBR’s airwaves until April, the winter book is as good of an opportunity for The Game to string together back to back full book wins.

May both stations continue to excel, and enjoy a spirited competition.

ST. LOUIS:

101 ESPN has started 2019 by celebrating its 10 year anniversary, but it closed out 2018 by dominating the market once again.

For the full week (M-Su 6a-Mid) the station produced a 3rd place finish with Men 25-54 thanks to a mid 6 share. That number rose above a 7 share for M-F 6a-7p.

For the individual shows, Bernie Miklasz continued leading the station to a Top 3 finish in morning drive with a low 6 share.

Kevin Wheeler lifted the brand even higher during his timeslot, generating a 3rd place finish courtesy of a 7.4. The Turn featuring Anthony Stalter put the bow in middays by occupying the 4th spot with a 6.7 share.

Where the station saw its biggest success is in afternoon drive. The Fast Lane crushed yet again with a 10 share, just enough to lock up the 2nd spot. Even more impressive for Randy Karraker, Brad Thompson, and Chris Rongey was that they finished 1st overall in the market for the full year.

TAMPA:

No major surprises this quarter, but the market’s leading sports brand WDAE did have each of their programs finish in the Top 10  with Men 25-54. That’s especially positive considering that none of the local shows registered Top 10 performances at the same time last year.

It’s safe to say that football season had a strong impact, lifting WDAE’s ratings 42% from the Summer. The brand climbed 7 ratings positions M-F 6a-7p, moving from 17th to 10th.

The best growth for the station took place during the hours of 12p-6p. WDAE gained 1.5 shares during those hours, good enough to finish 7th.

WASHINGTON DC:

It was a big 4th quarter for 106.7 The Fan. Washington DC’s leading sports station finished #1 with Men 25-54 in weekday prime (excluding non-commercial WAMU) with a strong 9.0. Team 980 was further back just under a 2 share.

The Sports Junkies remained top performers in the competitive morning drive daypart, finishing 2nd (excluding non-commercial WAMU) with a 10.1, one tenth of a point behind WTOP.

The top ranked show on The Fan was once again Grant and Danny. The midday team finished 1st for the fall book with a 10.9. Even more impressive was the 2-3 point lead they held on their next closest competitors WAMU (non-commercial) and WMAL.

PM drive saw Chad Dukes lock down a 2nd place (excluding WAMU) finish with Men 25-54. Dukes finished the quarter with a 7.1.

A few other noteworthy numbers to share, The Fan finished the quarter #1 with Men 18-49 in Full week, Prime, mornings, middays, and afternoons. They were also 5th in Prime and Middays, and 3rd in mornings with Adults 25-54. That should get some advertisers who don’t buy the Men 25-54 demo looking in their direction.

BONUS COVERAGE:

Burlington, Vermont’s sports station 101.3 The Game saw significant growth in afternoon drive during the fall book. ‘The Huddle’, which features Arnie Spanier, Rich Haskell and Brady Farkas, climbed from a 2.8 to 4.7 with Men 25-54. The show saw even bigger gains among Men 18-49, Men 25-49, and Men 35-64.