Thursday, March 25, 2010

Never mind the lower sports radio ratings.....

Sports radio stations are helping to show the significance to current and potential radio advertisers of the monthly ratings reports compared to quarterly in past years. The latest monthly reports, covering early February into early March, are showing an across-the-board decrease for sports radio stations in the major markets. I only went as far as to see declining overall ratings in Chicago for WSCR and WMVP, NYC for both WFAN and WEPN, along with Dallas and Houston’s multiple sports competitors, to get the message.

However, I think it is important to explore several reasons for this. Part of the reason for the decline is the exact time of the year. Sports stations vary from month to month way more than from one quarter to the next. During the ratings period, the NFL season was over and done with. Baseball spring training was getting underway. Yet, as I commented about a few weeks ago, many of the sports stations continued to whip the dead horse known as the already concluded NFL season. Rumors of changes and rehashing the past season does not capture the fans’ interest, especially with the NFL Draft still weeks away.

College basketball was in the midst of its regular season, which becomes almost meaningless when you have 4 or more teams from one conference advancing to the NCAA. The NBA and NHL regular seasons were not in playoff drive mode, especially this year with the NHL season stopping for 2 weeks.

Some will argue that the Olympics were on during this time, but I don’t buy that one. Sorry, but I didn’t have any of the bobsledders or figure skaters on my fantasy teams. The hardcore sports fans don’t give a you-know-what about moose fishing or whatever some of those Olympic sports are, let alone want to discuss them on the radio. That’s for a different audience than those who frequent the radio sports stations. Simply put, in addition to many of the sports stations rehashing the NFL instead of looking ahead, that ratings period is simply not friendly to sports stations.

How does this benefit advertisers? This information could help them for years to come. Face it, stations such as WSCR in Chicago, among those showing a nice increase from the prior monthly ratings report, aren’t going to voluntarily reduce their advertising rates for the next month. They probably were raised. As a result, new advertisers paid higher prices to immediately reach a much lower audience. Now they might not come back, thinking they didn’t get enough return on their investment. Whereas, by waiting until April and May, when we have baseball in full swing, the NFL Draft, and the NBA and NHL playoffs, the sports radio audience will be back in full force.

Here’s hoping that management of these sports stations does not collectively over-react and make changes to their current content based on these newly released numbers.

Meanwhile, I am watching for reaction to the N.Y. Rangers’ showing of Wednesday (Mar. 24) night’s game in 3-D television. The Rangers were behind what is supposedly the first ever hockey game televised in 3-D, and invited some sports and show biz celebrities to be part of the audience in a theatre actually located in Madison Square Garden, where the game itself was also being played.

Yet, the cost for “fans” to have this experience was $20 per ticket. It scares me that there was no major outrage over this. That should be the cost to see the actual game from the stands. That cost is in addition to parking or transportation to get to the Garden. The New York Daily News reported a total crowd of about 2,000, but there is no breakdown as to how many actually forked over the big bucks for what is still a game on TV.

Frankly, criteria to get a ticket should have been along the lines of in exchange for a stub from a recent Rangers game, showing a cable or satellite bill proving that the fan subscribes (and pays extra) to receive MSG Network and gets the Rangers games, or a marketing promotion such as getting a ticket from an electronics retailer which sells HD and eventually 3D TV’s.

Teams and players seem to forget that millions of people who are not interested in sports are forking up dollars each month to cable and satellite companies because they have no choice. They expect fans to continue paying extremely high ticket prices, along with parking or transportation, and buy the overpriced food at the concessions, in support of their favorite team(s). Thus, the idea of charging a whopping $20 to watch a game on TV is appalling. However, so far all I have read is about this “historic event”. Keep this up and the spending money of sports fans is what will be “history”.

Meanwhile, here we go again with Tiger Woods lack of information. I cannot believe the attention given to Wednesday’s (March 24) announcement that Tiger will hold a press conference on April 5th. I suppose I can understand how CBS stations would make a big deal out of it, since CBS-TV televises the climax of the Masters and stands to gain from Tiger’s performance in the tourney. Yet, I heard it as either the lead story or a very prominent story on several “non-CBS” media outlets. That is unbelievable to me.

Sorry, but this “announcement” is not a news story. I should not know that Tiger Woods will “finally” answer questions until he answers them, if them. No way this “story” should have taken precedence over true sports news of the day. I even saw this as the lead story on a local TV sports network that night. I darn near switched to another channel, thinking that there was no sports news that day. Just in time, the network saved the day by moving to a true local sports story, restoring my faith in mankind.

The killer is that the only question sports fans have is seeing how Tiger’s golf game will go during the Masters, and not one word that he says without backing it up.

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