Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - October 20th update....

This week brings still more examples of sports radio shows going to TV. In Chicago and several other cities, next Monday (Oct. 25) marks the debut of Dan Patrick's radio show going to the TV side by way of some Fox Sports regional networks and Comcast Sports regional networks.

In Chicago, this marks a move of Patrick's show off the radio and on to TV in perhaps the most significant move in the country. While it is true that Dan Patrick's radio show has been airing on 670 WSCR The Score since its start, the show has been airing on a severe tape delay. Airing the show from 1 to 4 AM and previewing games which have already been completed was never the best showcase for Patrick. Whether that was worth it just to be able to tell potential advertisers that the show airs in Chicago is up for debate. It's just that airing overnight after games were over has been a waste of time, and the better parts of Patrick's show never got a fair shake in the Chicago market.

Getting rid of the Dan Patrick Show means that WSCR The Score will be live and local 24 hours a day. Host Les Grobstein will no longer have a split show from 10 PM to 1 AM and then return from 4 until 5 AM, or need to host for 7 hours straight when there is no Patrick Show to air. Now, he settles into Midnight to 5 AM.

Starting Monday, the Dan Patrick Show will air live on Comcast SportsNet each weekday morning.

In Boston, the popular WEEI morning show, The Dennis and Callahan Show, will be simulcast on NESN, starting the week of November 15th, from 6 to 9 AM. What also makes this interesting is that The Dennis & Callahan Show has changed over the past couple of years and is not all sports. It will be interesting to see how some political cross-talk goes over (or doesn't) with the NESN all-sports audience, especially since NESN plans to air the show on its outlets beyond the immediate Boston area. On the other hand, it will be interesting to hear if the show transitions back more to sports due to the addition of the TV simulcast.

These 2 cities add to the existing radio shows on TV, which includes portions Mike Francesa's WFAN show airing in the NYC area on YES, among other examples. The most prominent example is Mike & Mike's ESPN Radio show airing on ESPN2 each morning.

From the TV point of view, I understand these moves since the production costs are very little to pick up an existing "radio" show compared with needing a studio, fresh talent, producers, and the like. This is their way of going with a familiar and established entity for their viewers.

As a radio guy, I don't like to see this at all. While radio people sit around trying to determine why the medium is gradually losing its audiences across the board, it is actions such as this one that answer their own question.

In Boston, Dennis & Callahan enjoys strong ratings, especially within its targeted demographic. They have been a morning drive fixture since being moved there in 1999. But starting next month, radio will not have this show exclusively. Did WEEI executives stop to wonder what happens if several people who have PPM's (the meters used to monitor listening for ratings) are no longer listening to WEEI and instead watch NESN each morning?

If the radio ratings drop, the show will not be considered as successful, WEEI loses revenue, and radio loses a portion of the audience it has to fight hard for.

It's just like some of the music stations which want you to pay to download the songs they play and offer podcasts on their web site. They look at it as additional revenue instead of how they are also giving people more reasons NOT to listen to their station.

Some of the regional TV sports networks also already do their own version of a radio show on TV. A prime example is Sports Time Ohio's "All Bets Are Off" with Bruce Drennan. Bruce sits in the STO studio and takes listener calls, only occasionally showing an interview. For 3 hours on weekday afternoons and then 2 hours most Sunday nights. This is one example of TV copying radio, but at least they are originating their own show.

If and as radio continues to offer less unique programming, the overall audience is not likely to grow, or even sustain current levels.

NEW YORK: One can't blame NBC-TV for pointing this out. Sunday Night Football (10/17) with the Indianapolis vs. Washington game more than doubled the overnight ratings of Fox's NLCS telecast of the Phillies and Giants. Their report claims this was the best NFL prime time overnights vs. a baseball league Championship Series since 1997. The football ratings were reportedly 10% better than last season's Week 6 telecast.

A check of the Top 10 metered markets from this game understandably includes Richmond and Norfolk in the Top 5, due to their proximity to Washington D.C. The most curious markets to appear in the Top 10 are Knoxville and Greensboro. The markets with baseball teams still alive in the post-season, New York, Dallas, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, did not crack the Top 10 Sunday Night Football markets.

MIAMI: No update yet as to how WBGG-FM is going to handle their contract conflict on October 31st. It seems the station has "priority team" agreements with both the NBA Heat and the NFL Dolphins regarding WBGG, and the Heat is taking legal action. The teams are both scheduled for 1 PM ET regular season games on Halloween. The Dolphins broadcasts also air on WINZ-AM. The Heat will be into their first regular season weekend with LeBron James and company. In addition, the Heat is reportedly upset that the Dolphins get a 2-hour pre-game block whereas Heat broadcasts have a 30-minute pre-game. However, the Dolphins play once per week compared with 3 or 4 games for the Heat.

St. LOUIS: One more chapter in the "why radio is losing its audience" derby. Even though the Cardinals dropped out of N.L. Central contention by September, their TV ratings, up about 19% from the previous season, led local ratings for all of MLB. In addition, they averaged higher TV ratings over the course of their season than any NBA or NHL team during the 2009-2010 seasons.

Not so coincidentally, the Cardinals will return to KMOX Radio for next season after another season on a signal-challenged AM station that barely covered the St. Louis metro. Let's see what happens to their ratings for next season when fans throughout the region can EASILY get the games on radio.

By the way, the Minnesota Twins local telecasts averaged the 2nd highest in local MLB telecast ratings this year, understandable given the team's A.L. Central championship and their new stadium. They also beat out every NBA and NHL local telecast from the prior seasons. The Red Sox had won this category for the six previous seasons, but suffered about a 38% ratings decrease for 2010 and did not make MLB's top 5 local telecasts rankings.

SAN FRANCISCO/OAKLAND: The Oakland A's had one of the biggest increases overall in their local telecast ratings compared with other teams with more than a 48% improvement for their Comcast SportsNet telecasts. However, they still wound up with the lowest local telecast ratings of the season.

GAINESVILLE: Glad to see that Renee Gork is back working again on sports radio. Gork was the reporter fired from an Arkansas station following an incident where she wore a U. of Florida hat to a U. of Arkansas press conference. Here's hoping she pursues legal action on that. Meanwhile, WRUF 850 has hired her to be a part of the University of Florida operated station. On one hand, that is just as insane. On the other hand, she has a job in sports radio, like she should.

MILWAUKEE: Challenges for local play-by-play voices. At press time (10/19), 40-year Brewers voice Bob Uecker was scheduled to have additional heart surgery to repair a tear from his prior heart valve replacement. The 75-year young Uecker missed much of the just concluded season when he had to have heart surgery in April. We most certainly hope he will "get up....get up....and get out" of the hospital as soon as possible.

Bucks radio voice Ted Davis went to Texas to help his ailing mother but is expected back prior to the end of the pre-season. TV voice Jim Paschke has filled in on at least one Bucks pre-season broadcast so far.

CLEVELAND: It's not just Milwaukee announcers. Sorry to report that Cavaliers voice Joe Tait, scheduled to retire after the coming season, was hospitalized on this past weekend due to chest pains. TV voice Fred McLeod filled in for Saturday's (10/16) pre-season game vs. Dallas.

PITTSBURGH: Stan Savran is back, and is now a part of the Steelers Radio Network. He will be heard during the pre-game, half time, and post-game shows. In addition, he will make weekly Steelers related appearances on the WDVE Morning Show, WXDX's Mark Madden Show, and "Tunch & Wolf" on Fox Sports 970.

PHILADELPHIA: Former Sixer Eric Snow made his debut last week (10/12) as analyst working with Marc Zumoff, becoming the 4th analyst in 4 seasons to do so on Comcast SportsNet. He replaces Ed Pinckney, who joined the Chicago Bulls as an Assistant Coach. Bob Salmi and Steve Mix handled the seasons prior to Pinckney.

DALLAS: While the Rangers battle to reach their first World Series, the team will have a new TV play-by-play voice for next season. The team is not renewing the contract of Josh Lewin after 9 seasons. This does not impact Lewin's other duties as play-by-play voice of the San Diego Chargers (radio) and baseball assignments for Fox TV. Tom Grieve continues as the team's TV analyst.

CINCINNATI: Xavier University's basketball team's success has carried over to the TV side. As of now, every game with the exception of the Paradise Jam tournament they are scheduled for will be televised. Fox Sports Ohio will air at least 9 games, CBS College Sports will show 5 games, and ESPN has 10 games scheduled. Brad Johansen and Steve Wolf will call the Fox Sports Ohio telecasts.

DAYTON: Last week's big area high school game between Wayne and Centerville had plenty of coverage. In addition to being televised nationally on ESPNU, WONE 980 broadcast the game as its Greater Western Ohio Conference Game of the Week, while WSWO 97.7 aired it along with all Wayne H.S. games, and WCWT 107.3 airs all of the Centerville games.

ALBANY: Sorry to learn of the passing of Bob McNamara, sportscaster in the market from 1966 into 2001, at the age of 76. He worked at WTEN-TV in 1966, then to WRGB in 1967 for 14 years before going to WNYT.

BANGOR: The Bangor Daily News reports that WZON The Sports Zone 620 will cut back its sports talk programming in favor of news/talk shows between now and the end of the year. Play-by-play is expected to continue, including high school football and hoops, Husson University games, and Red Sox baseball (for which it is under contract through the 2011 season).

TERRE HAUTE: Brazil Indiana's WSDM 92.7 has dropped its country rock music format and moved ESPN Radio from WSDX 1130. The AM signal suffered from being only 500 watts during the day and even less at night. This provides better coverage for ESPN Radio, also carried on WBOW 1300 in Terra Haute.

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