Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - December 29th Update

As the NFL playoff races again go down to the final weekend, the strong TV ratings are playing a direct role in the drama still to unfold.

We shouldn't overlook the moves by Fox Sports for Sunday (1/2) of putting 3 NFL games with playoff implications on at the same time. This will be an instance of helping the competitive balance and NFL fans while it is really based on generating more huge ratings for Fox.

Fox moved the Chicago at Green Bay and Dallas at Philadelphia games to 4:15 ET instead of keeping those as early regional games. Both of those games have NFC playoff implications, as does the N.Y. Giants at Washington game, originally scheduled for 4:15.

Fans have seen it happen in many past years where early games decide playoff fates instead and render a doubleheader game or two to meaningless. Not so this time around. The ticket holding fans should be thankful for this, since it gives each game more meaning. But is this really for the ticket holding fans?

Guess again. Since both Fox and CBS have doubleheader game telecasts, this is a huge push for Fox to win out over CBS on the regular season's final day. Having New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia's avid football markets glued to the screens during that time period, not to mention the Dallas Cowboys no matter what their record, should help Fox kill in the ratings. They'll kill CBS' telecasts of Tennessee at Indy or Jax at Houston. At least the fans benefit along with Fox TV, unless you want to find a "must see" early game.

NBC should do well again on Sunday (Jan. 2). Even with bowl game and the regular NFL Sunday "burnout" possibilities, NBC has the St. Louis at Seattle telecast which sends the game winner into the NFC Playoffs.

It remains to be seen if the Philadelphia Eagles show any effects of having played on Tuesday (12/28) night after the weather related postponement from Sunday. NBC did well with its Tuesday night prime time telecast. It was nice to see the game start right away after 8 PM ET instead of rehashing everything on another pre-game show. NBC will say that they did their pre-game show as scheduled on Sunday night, when they went 90 minutes instead of 75 before cutting away to game shows. What they won't say is that they wanted to get the game over with by 11 PM so that Jay Leno and their late night lineup would be on time. However, they didn't say it, and it didn't happen, as the game was delayed due to injuries and replay challenges.

Early returns (as of press time on Wednesday) show that NBC topped the prime time ratings with the Vikings' upset of the Eagles. It helped that fans in New York and Chicago had an interest in the game due to the playoff possibilities for their local teams.

But back to Sunday. It certainly was big news that the Eagles game was postponed until Tuesday due to the snowstorm. CBS had it on their bottom line scroll throughout most of its early game telecasts, which was understandable. What is curious is that every time the story scrolled across, it gave the 8 PM ET start time for the Tuesday game. No one was saying on Monday. I'm wondering if that was some sort of league directive. CBS would have no reason (or shouldn't have) to promote the start time of a game to be on NBC.

On Christmas Day, the NBA ruled the ratings, just as we thought. ESPN and ABC had ratings increases of 20 to 45% over last year's telecasts on that day, and this year a total of 5 games were televised.

You can't overlook that the Miami vs. Lakers (LeBron vs. Kobe) showed a 45% increase over last season's Christmas marquee game of Cleveland vs. the Lakers. Before you think "That was a different matchup", consider that both were LeBron vs. Kobe. In Miami, that telecast was ABC's highest rated NBA regular season telecast there. The earlier ABC telecast of Boston at Orlando showed Boston as the top local market for ratings, and was ABC's highest rated regular season telecast ever in Orlando.

The NFL Network telecast on Christmas night of Dallas vs. Arizona finished as the day's most watched program on cable TV. The Network can only dream of what their audience would have been if the Cowboys were having a good season or if that game had any playoff implications.

Meanwhile, now Time Warner Cable is in dispute with Sinclair Broadcast Group over carrying local channels in some east coast markets. This while thousands of AT&T U-Verse viewers subscribing to their sports package lost about a dozen of the Fox Sports regional networks mid-December with no announcement. While it may be easy to blame Fox Sports, AT&T makes up for that by continuing to charge subscribers to the package the same amount of money (unless they call to complain) even with far less channels. And the fans who are or would pay the expensive television bills still don't have a say - either way.

Congrats to Mike Pereira, named "Sports Media Person of the Year" for 2010 by Sports Illustrated for his roving commentary about officials challenges during Fox NFL telecasts this season. Going into the final weekend of regular season play, Pereira has correctly predicted the outcome of 49 out of 50 red flags he analyzed for the network.

Meanwhile, I understand that people in media like to have time off to spend with family around certain holidays. Yet, I understand that over the years many a media member has to do his or her thing on those days because sports increases for holiday audiences.

But here we go again. Too many sports talk hosts are on vacation this week, and it is one of the busiest sports weeks of the entire year. There is plenty to talk about. In many instances, sports radio callers are forced to discuss their opinions with part-time or replacement hosts. At least it is live and up to date programming, so I suppose I can live with it.

Not to pick on Dan Patrick again, but there is no excuse for "best of" repeats on his morning radio and TV show all this week. Especially within a few months of having added several major market TV outlets to the show. It seems like he has been airing repeats more often than in the studio. Sports happens every day. It is not like an entertainment show where actors discuss current movies.

C'mon, Dan. The next month you are taking off, get some players or fellow broadcasters to fill in for a live show. Or let your production staff do some hosting. Or record some topical interviews to keep it current. Instead, it drives listeners and viewers to other stations for live sports talk. If I were an executive with a regional TV Network or large or medium radio market that signed this show, I would be incensed at having my audience pissed away from part of morning drive. A vacation is one thing. Blowing off listeners and viewers is another.

DALLAS: The Ticket 1310 had an 18 hour charity marathon on Monday (12/27). To its credit, listeners were not bored with endless pitches for charity in between the same fans calling in with the same complaints as any other day. Instead, the station went the extra mile, with live guests including Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. Even though this is how it should be, it was good to hear, and also shows the level of competition among the sports stations serving the Metroplex.

BALTIMORE: Tonight's (Weds. 12/29) game between Towson University and LaSalle, as aired on WTMD 89.7, was a special one for Spiro Morekas. Now in his 20th season of calling Towson's games, this one marked his 1,000th broadcast.

YOUNGSTOWN OH: This past Monday (12/27) at Noon, WNIO 1390 did as rumored and dropped music to pick up Fox Sports Radio. The station will continue to carry Cleveland Cavaliers basketball, Pittsburgh Steelers football, and most Ohio State University broadcasts.

EL PASO: KROD 600 drops its talk format and will indeed become ESPN Radio on January 18th. The play-by-play the station has been carrying will continue on KROD. In addition to local high school broadcasts, the station will keep Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns football, and add play-by-play it can air without schedule conflicts from ESPN Radio. KHEY 1380 had carried ESPN locally.

FINALLY: As we wrap up 2010, let me take this opportunity to wish each of you a Happy New Year, and thank you for the comments and e-mails (positive and negative) throughout this year. The Broadcast Booth has been renewed for another year (its 3rd full year) and I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - December 21st Update....

The majority of sports fans associate holidays with whatever sport is prominent at the time. The one exception was Christmas Day, until the past few years. It wasn't that long ago that the NFL would be careful to schedule regular season and early playoff games on days other than Christmas Day itself.

In recent years, the NBA has come along and made Christmas Day its special holiday. The league has gone from one showcase game on Dec. 25 to a doubleheader, and now once again this year no fewer than five national telecasts dominate the day.

Chicago at New York starts it at Noon ET on ESPN, followed by the ABC-TV matchups with Boston at Orlando at 2:30 and Miami vs. L.A. Lakers at 5:00. ESPN takes over at night with Denver at Oklahoma City at 8:00 and then Portland at Golden State at 10:30. Nearly 13 hours of continuous live NBA action, including a couple of marquee matchups.

Although I haven't seen recent figures for TNT, ESPN reports a 35% increase in viewers for the first 24 telecasts of the current NBA season over last season. It looks like the Christmas Day marathon will help that trend to continue.

Granted, not everyone is fine with sports on Christmas Day. But for the many of us who grew up with maybe one or two games of any kind shown on Christmas Day, this is a holiday gift in its own right. There were some lean years when the "Blue Gray" college football game was the only game being shown, and this was a boring 'all-star' collection of college players blended together. Even with the jokes about "the gray tradition year after year", that game only served to make the day more frustrating.

After all, New Year's Day is for college football, Memorial Day and Independence Day are for baseball, Labor Day used to symbolize the start of the NFL season and now has gone back to baseball, and Thanksgiving is for the NFL (especially with the addition of the 3rd game in recent years). The NBA has been sharp in claiming Christmas, as well as the Martin Luther King holiday as its own with a lineup of national games.

The week started off with still another NFL domination. After another Sunday Night Football "win" for NBC, the possible final game of Brett Favre on Monday Night scored well for ESPN. Like it or not, Favre is big news and the ratings reflect it. It would be easy to say "Wait a minute. The Bears were going for the NFC North Division title", which they clinched.

Yet, with the Vikings already out of any post-season possibility, the Vikings hosting the Bears actually scored a higher TV audience rating in the Minneapolis market than it did for the always present Chicago market.

The Minneapolis area rating was reported to be a 48.5 compared to a 40.7 rating for the Chicago market. While it's true that the game was played at the University of Minnesota stadium which may have peaked local curiosity, the belief is that Favre made the ratings difference.

Even on a national level, ESPN Monday Night Countdown (the pre-game show) scored a 3.5 rating, the show's best ever. As a result this show's top 3 most watched episodes (including this past Monday) were all prior to games with Favre and the Vikings.

(The telecast audience ratings for Minneapolis and Chicago are based on both the ESPN telecast and a simulcast of the feed on a local TV station in each market. Since it is the same telecast, there is no need to show the local splits.)

While Fox Sports Radio shows some audience growth, its national morning show shrinks to one offering starting on January 3rd. The "Zakk & Jack Show" with Zakk Tyler and former QB Jack Trudeau remains in Fox's 6 to 9 AM ET spot. As a result, Stephen A. Smith will need to yell his comments at other times of the day, which he will do as their full-time NBA analyst. It took just 5 months for Zakk & Jack to prove themselves since the network only started to carry their Indianapolis based show in late July of this year.

Another great idea from MLB Network comes to fruition during January. The Network allowed fans to vote for their favorite games of the past 50 years, and MLB Network will air the "top 20" during the month.

Congrats to Dave Van Horne, one of the great baseball voices of the past 50 years on making it to the Baseball Hall of Fame next July. Van Horne started with the Montreal Expos in 1969 and has been the voice of the Florida Marlins since 2001.

Chicago Cubs fans now have something to look forward to, as radio voice Pat Hughes was signed to a 5 year contract extension earlier this week. Hughes has been calling the vast majority of innings of Cubs games on radio for the past 15 seasons on WGN Radio. Hughes will have a new broadcast partner for 2011 once a replacement is named for the late Ron Santo. It is not yet known if WGN will add an analyst who will also do some innings of play-by-play and take some of the load off Hughes, who has called upwards of 8 innings of every game for the past few seasons. Yet, this is not certain, based on the WGN Radio trend over the years of having a cheerleader in the booth ahead of another true broadcaster.

WGN Radio, meanwhile, is bringing back sports programming to its 7 to 10 PM time slot starting next week after a few month's absence. Dave Kaplan, who just had his role with Comcast SportsNet expanded last week, will be the primary co-host on weeknights when there are no Blackhawks, Cubs, or Northwestern University basketball broadcasts.

BOSTON: After somewhere around 13,000 sports talk shows over the years, this coming Sunday (12/26) will be the final one for Eddie Andelman. His final show airs on WTKK 96.9.

St. LOUIS: Long time sports host Kevin Slaten found a way to return enthusiastically to KFNS, where he returns starting January 3rd. Slaten had been dismissed back in 2008 after he aired an interview with Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan who thought it was a private conversation.

The move was made possible by the recent new owners of KSLG 1380 Sports Radio purchasing KFNS. Since KFNS has the better signal, management is really only switching Slaten over to KFNS while Jeff Vernetti, Jeff Gordon, and Brian McKenna will move over to 1380 and continue in afternoon drive there. Word is that Slaten will add a co-host during January.

KSLG is bringing back Howard Balzer to host from 1 to 3 PM on weekdays, rather than only appearing on football related shows and segments for the station.

CINCINNATI: If and as the Bengals game vs. San Diego does not sell out for this coming Sunday (12/26), it would mean that Cincinnati fans would wind up with a New York City doublehader on the tube. CBS would carry the Jets vs. Bears game in the 1 PM slot before Fox shows the Giants at Green Bay game as the doubleheader game. It's actually not New York bias, as in both cases there are playoff implications for each participating team.

BIRMINGHAM: The Alabama vs. Auburn rivalry in November also carried over to the radio ratings. WJOX-FM sports radio showed a significant audience increase during the ratings for that period and rose to 3rd in the market, trailing a pair of music stations.

SOUTH BURLINGTON VT: The new year will start with network hopping among some all sports stations. WCPV-FM Champ 101.3 will pick up ESPN Radio, while airing a local sports show with Rob Ryan from 4 to 6 PM. WCAT 1390, along with WFAD 1490 Middlebury and WRSA 1420 St. Albans, will drop ESPN and pick up Fox Sports Radio. The area will technically have 3 all sports stations, as WNMR 107.1 Shelburne will continue with Sporting News Radio except for its local 4 to 6 PM sports show. WCPV will also now carry New England Patriots football and Vermont Lake Monsters basebal instead of WEAV 960 talk radio.

LUFKIN TX: ESPN Radio will be simulcast on both 1260 AM and 103.3 FM beginning with the new year. The FM signal had been off the air in recent months.

May Santa bring all of the sports game broadcasts and talk shows better ratings!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - December 16th Update....

Here we are well into the NFL, NBA, and NHL seasons, with the endless string of meaningless college bowl games about to be thrust upon us, and college basketball getting ready for holiday tournaments and then conference play.

Yet, the sports media has added to the collection of rumors and speculation it "reports" with some bizarre stories over the past week.

Some of the media has reported on a publicity stunt the NHL Atlanta Thrashers tried earlier this week. On Wednesday (12/15) morning, the team's web site and social media pages "reported" that Trash was arrested. That's the team's mascot, folks. The "story" that the mascot had stolen a Zamboni and drove it 25 miles on I-85, and that the mascot was arrested by Gwinnett County Police.

Yet, the Atlanta Fox-TV affiliate "covered" the story, while it also got mentions (even if not taken seriously) on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's web site.

On Tuesday, Mike Felger on Boston's 98.5 WBZ-FM The Sports Hub used time during his show to discuss a local web site doing a "Wed, Bed, or Kill" game in which men are supposed to vote for which they would choose among three Boston area female TV news or personalities. It seems Felger didn't like that many voters came out in favor of "Kill" for Sara Underwood, who happens to be Felger's wife. One of the outside news accounts of this incident reported that a National Organization of Women spokesperson was "surprised" that Felger used his show to discuss his wife and this "poll". So much for any children listening to a sports show wanting to talk about the Patriots and Celtics play this week.

Also this week WAKS 96.5 FM in Cleveland began airing a digitally edited version of a Jay-Z song, "Empire State of Mind". Normally, this wouldn't make a sports media column, but this isn't normally. Only this station (as of press time) edited the song so that the word "LeBron" is not decipherable. Station officials were quoted as saying they did so based on the recent negative reaction toward LeBron James when he returned to Cleveland with his Miami Heat earlier this month. Wonder how listeners will feel when they purchase the song and then clearly hear the Lebron reference.

All 3 of these stories are from within the past week. Here we are with sports radio stations growing for the most part, more regional and national full-time sports TV networks, and tremendous ratings for live sports events all year. I'd like to think we could all focus on the games and the players and coaches instead of hoping we can return to that.

Then, there is the story of Penn State's Joe Paterno calling into WDAE Tampa with host Steve "The Big Dog" Duemig, and Paterno being unable to hear the questions. Several sports and non-sports web sites have links for fans to be able to hear this mishap.

Many are blaming the 83 year-old Paterno for not being able to hear the host and for a botched interview attempt. You have got to be kidding. WDAE should be embarassed beyond belief and have blocked the audio clips from airing all over the place (including The Howard Stern Show). How did Paterno get on the air if he couldn't hear the host? If JoePa could hear the producer prior to going live, it tells me that Duemig should have put Paterno on hold and waited for his producer(s) to correct the technical glitch before continuing. If the Coach could not hear the producer either, they had no business putting him on the air and causing that to happen.

If WDAE can't handle a live interview, that is something for listeners to consider. Whether you are for or against Paterno remaining active at Penn State is not the issue here. That some media members are so willing to have him be embarassed by something that is not his fault is an issue. Or it should be.

Snow in Minnesota causes anger in Connecticut. The unfortunate collapse of the MetroDome roof and the moving of the Giants vs. Vikings game to Monday Night caused some havoc for TV viewers. Fox Sports retained the rights to the telecast on Monday night, with much of the game going up against the scheduled ESPN Monday Night Football game. Thus, Fox was only able to the Giants - Vikings game in approved "home" markets. Those were New York City and Albany NY (Giants), along with Minneapolis, Rochester (MN), Duluth, and Mankato MN.

Efforts by politicians in Connecticut did not get the game televised over-the-air in Hartford or New Haven, primarily due to fighting over the revenue for advertising between Fox and ESPN. ESPN reportedly refused to let the Fox affiliates carry the game, while Fox would not let ESPN2 take its telecast feed because ESPN2 would have been able to substitute its own advertisers.

Once again because of greed some fans are denied the opportunity to see a game on TV. What should they have done in CT? Let both the Fox affiliates and ESPN2 show the game and let the fans decide which channel to watch. Just like when NFL Network let both NBC and CBS show the Patriots game on a Saturday night at the end of their quest for an undefeated season a few years back.

Fans in the Baltimore area didn't care. The ESPN telecast of the Baltimore vs. Houston game on Monday night drew a 43.1 rating when combining the ESPN telecast with a local TV station, nearly double the ratings of the telecast in the Houston area.

Tuesday night's (12/14) NHL telecast of the Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia game wound up as Versus' most watched regular season game the network has ever had and the most watched regular season game on cable since December 2003.

DALLAS: The success of the Rangers and the sports stations carried over to the Rangers getting a new radio home starting next season. KESN 103.3 begins a 4 year deal to carry the broadcasts, while ESPN Deportes KZMP 1540 will carry the Spanish broadcasts. The broadcasts move from KRLD-AM, which had split up weekday and weekend broadcasts last season with another station. This move brings the stability of the broadcasts being on one station, as it is likely the Rangers will have priority over the Mavericks broadcasts during spring conflicts. Nothing official about that yet, however.

KRLD-FM continues as the Cowboys flagship, while the Stars continue on The Ticket 1310.

MINNEAPOLIS: The Twins broadcast booth will seem like it was for the Yankees for several years, as fans will need a scorecard to find out who will call each game during the 2011 season. John Gordon has decided to reduce his schedule for his 25th season with the team to just 90 games. Former Twins voices Ted Robinson and Bob Kurtz will each work about 25 of the other games. Robinson continues his duties for NBC while Kurtz handles play-by-play for the NHL Wild.

Adding to the mix will be Kris Atteberry, as the Twins' studio host will handle some play-by-play for about 45 games. Lead analyst Dan Gladden will do about 135 to 140 games, with Jack Morris returning to handle about 25 broadcasts. There will be a quiz later. At least all of the radio games remain on KSTP 1500.

CHICAGO: David Kaplan will have expanded duties for Comcast SportsNet Chicago for the upcoming baseball season. In addition to hosting the daily talk and interview show, Kaplan will act as studio host for most Cubs telecasts. He is also expected to return to WGN Radio Sports after the first of the year.

BOSTON: Comcast SportsNet has added Bob Neumeier and Nicole Zaloumis to the fold. Neumeier, well known for his stint on WBZ-TV, starts as a sports anchor on January 3rd. Zaloumis comes over from the Big Ten Network.

ESPN 970 will have Stan Savran hosting 10 AM to Noon beginning in January. Savran, who hosted when ESPN was on 1250, will begin his show about one week after the Steelers' season concludes. Yet, the late morning time slot already has a Steelers flavor. "Tunch & Wolf" with former Steelers Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley currently airs in that spot.

NASHVILLE: Sorry to report on the passing of Nick Hunter at the age of 67. Known as "Nick The Stick" for more than 20 years on sports talk radio, most recently with George Plaster on The Zone 104.5. He stayed on the air into November after having been diagnosed with cancer in September.

Yet, many fans were not aware of Hunter's 'double life'. He spent more than 40 years in the record business in a variety of promotions and management positions for CBS Records, Epic Records, Warner Bros., Electra, and Atlantic. He worked with Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Paycheck, and Hank Williams Jr., among others. He will be missed.

Monday, December 6, 2010

There is justice - Marvin Miller NOT going to Baseball Hall of Fame

I have said my piece on this before, but already feel the need to speak up again since the media is actually spending even more time and space about Marvin Miller, as if there were any reasons in the first place that Miller and the Baseball Hall of Fame should even be in the same sentence. Today (12/6) Miller again failed to receive enough votes for the Hall. That this was even a possibility is sad.

Marvin Miller never played, coached, or managed in the big leagues. He never owned even a portion of a team. He was not an executive for a major league teams, nor a broadcaster. You know, those prerequisites for everyone else in the Hall. There were 25 players on the roster for each team during most of the season, and 40 on the roster at other times. Never, not even during the war years, did teams ever have to scramble to fill space on the rosters.

Deserving players in the Hall of Fame such as Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio played long and amazing careers, mostly for one team, and did not leave baseball with fewer than 10 major league seasons completed. No one forced these guys to continue at the sport they clearly excelled in. Some of the accomplishments of just these 2 players (hitting .400 for an entire season, 56 game hitting streak) have still not happened since they did it, and they did it mostly with almost half of the number of teams in the big leagues today. In other words, against much tougher competition on a daily basis.

Baseball had already begun its expansion process in 1961, which was before Marvin Miller came to baseball.

Since Marvin Miller came to baseball, there are still 25 or 40 men on each team’s roster. Due to further expansion, pitchers and hitters are facing comparatively weaker competition than the Hall of Famers inducted during and prior to the 1960’s did. Yet, we have only had one real threat to a batter hitting .400 in the past 50 years. Not one pitcher has won 30 games in one season in more than 40 years. While we have had some single season home run records set, those are tainted in the minds of many because of steroids because neither the players union nor management took action against when it would have made a difference.

Still digging, but I yet to see a Marvin Miller “accomplishment” that would enable ‘Hall of Fame’ to be included in the conversation.

Sure, Miller had a huge influence on baseball, and the entire pro sports world for that matter, as well as sports fans and non-fans. His helping to sever the ties between players and teams after only 4 years took away the incentive for teams to spend to more thoroughly scout, coach, and develop players and their all-around skill levels. There is no more “rebuilding” years since teams now can try and buy their way out of a poor minor league system.

The fans are now priced out of going to games on a regular basis. Season tickets are now mostly corporations and businesses, or individuals sharing tickets to go to a few games each year because that is all they can afford. Kids can no longer go by themselves (2 or more friends) to a summer day or night at the ball park, buy a general admission ticket, and form the love for their team and its players for a couple of bucks out of their allowance. Not only have ticket prices skyrocketed, but fans are also gouged for parking and concessions, and maybe for binoculars having to sit hundreds of feet further away from the field so that executive suites can be below them.

Those who are not even sports fans are paying outrageous fees for their cable or satellite TV each month because of the regional and national sports networks having to pay millions of dollars for TV rights to the games, only to force consumers into helping to pay these costs each month.

These prices are in place so that a backup catcher can make over one million dollars for next season alone, even if he only plays in 20 games.

So those of you who honestly believe that Marvin Miller deserves to be recognized should contact the Players Association and have the millionaires Miller created at the fans’ and non-fans expense build him a shrine, and leave the Hall of Fame to the deserving baseball players, managers, owners, and broadcasters.

I’m not done yet. It kills me that some of the same people who think Marvin Miller should be honored are not complaining because George Steinbrenner also did not make it to the Hall of Fame. Even though Steinbrenner was an owner (and therefore a true baseball person), it seems to me he and Marvin Miller did exactly the same for the players and their financial windfalls. How are these two any different?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - December 6th Update......

In addition to soaring TV ratings for live sports events, sports radio stations have generally increased their collective audiences over the past few weeks as well. Maybe it really is each feeding off the other.

The unlikely meeting of the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers in the World Series was a ratings factor for both markets according to the mid-October to November 10th ratings released this past week.

The Giants were a big factor in San Francisco's KNBR 680 which finished #1 in the market (for what is believed to be the first time), literally doubling its audience since the September ratings. In Dallas, the Rangers' station KRLD-FM increased its ratings by .7, more than 2 1/2 times its audience from November 2009. In addition, KESN ESPN 103.3 also shows an increase of .9 overall, giving the top 2 sports stations more than a combined 1.6 ratings increase there.

Other major markets also reflected more sports radio success in overall audience. (These reflect the overall radio audience, rather than just the 25-54 demographic.)

In Boston, WEEI finished #7 overall in the market, while Sports Hub WBZ-FM increased a full ratings point and finished 9th overall, which gives the Boston market 2 of top 9 rated stations being all sports.

Detroit's WXYT-FM The Ticket is now tied for the #1 spot overall (after previously having sole possession of the top spot), yet lower rated rival WDFN showed a .3 overall audience increase.

In Chicago, WSCR The Score 670 increased its audience lead over rival WMVP ESPN 1000, while play-by-play coverage seems to be more significant. WBBM-AM 780 came in #1 overall in the market while the NFL's Bears are off to their best season since 2006, and WGN Radio showed an audience increase as the NHL Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks broadcasts continue even while there has been change and turmoil with that station's daytime lineup.

NYC showed WFAN 660 holding steady and finishing #12 in overall audience, while lower rated WEPN ESPN 1050 went up .3.

Philadelphia, with the Phillies post-season run in progress early in the ratings period and the Eagles in contention, shows WIP at #8 overall, while KYW 1060 with its news format including regular sports updates being a solid #1.

St. Louis fans continue to flock to relative newcomer (less than 2 years on the air) WXOS, which gained again to finish #9 overall, its first ever top ten appearance. WXOS now has more than 5 times the total combined audience of KFNS and KSLG.

A similar story in Pittsburgh, where newcomer KDKA-FM rose .9 overall in one month and finished #12 overall, with WEAE-AM now having dropped .7 overall just since the September ratings period.

Yet, the sports radio competition has not made a difference in Los Angeles, Houston, and Miami in terms of overall audience.

L.A.'s KSPN went up .2, but only to a 1.1 overall rating, while KLAC 570 dropped from what little it had the month before. Miami's WQAM dipped .2 to now be only #25 in the market. A combined audience rating with WQAM and WAXY would not make the market's top 20. Sports fans seem to be drifting elsewhere in Atlanta since the Braves' fast post-season exit. WCNN dropped .8 overall and is now out of the top 20, while WAXY remains behind.

Even with the NFL Texans having an improved season, Houston sports radio has a problem. KILT dropped to #25 overall, dropping .3 in the ratings. Those listeners went to KBME (up .1) and KFNC (up .2).

On the TV side, several key markets got an NFL Manning doubleheader on Sunday (12/5), including many on the east coast and in AFC home team markets. Among the Fox-TV opening games was the Giants hosting Washington with Eli Manning at QB for New York. The primary double header game which followed was Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts hosting Dallas.

For all of the NFL's TV ratings success this season, LeBron James' return to Cleveland last Thursday (12/2) on TNT beat the Philadelphia vs. Houston NFL telecast on NFL Network by more than 22% nationally, which included a rating better than 25 in the Cleveland market. It wasn't the highest rated NBA telecast of the young season, as Miami's season opener vs. Boston continues to hold that distinction, as of now.

Hardly a day or week goes by without TV sports fans somewhere being stuck in a war between rights holding networks and cable and satellite providers. Now the biggest such "war" is between Comcast SportsNet California and Dish Network. Dish subscribers are now (as of press time) still without the San Jose Sharks and Sacramento Kings telecasts, among others. This comes after Dish had pulled MSG Network (including MSG Plus) in certain east coast areas in October. Dish acts as though its web site is a reasonable response. The real issue is that the fans have no say. The cable or satellite providers should be able to deliver ANY network a subscribing fan wants, if he or she is willing to pay the price. Period. The phone companies don't stop us from calling certain area codes, so they shouldn't be able to stop us from receiving channels we want as long as we are willing to pay for them.

The NBA has inked another international deal, this one to bring 2 regular season telecasts per week, plus playoff games, to India, effective immediately. The result will be a record number of live telecasts available to the country with 1.2 billion people.

WILLIAMSBURG WV: What do you do when your radio station broadcasts both football and basketball, and games are about to overlap?

My answer would have been very much different from what 92.3 The Tide and 107.9 BACH-FM did on Saturday (12/4). It seems that William & Mary's basketball team had its opening game at Noon at VCU in Richmond, with the pre-game show scheduled for 11:30. However, William & Mary's football team had a 1:30 home game vs. Georgia Southern and a 1:00 pre-game show scheduled.

Granted, the basketball game was shown live on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. However, that was no reason for the radio stations to leave the basketball broadcast at 1:00 for the football pre-game show, leaving the basketball broadcast to only stream at They should have either put the basketball game on another station, or reduced the commercial load and had a knowledgeable studio host switch back and forth between the two broadcasts based on time outs, the closeness of the games, and scoring opportunities within the football game. (Since it was the same school, they would not upset one school or set of fans vs. another by switching around.)

LOS ANGELES: It's another difficult season for the Clippers, but even their long time broadcaster suffered an upset last Wednesday (12/1). Two accidents nearby on an interstate caused Ralph Lawler to drive only 6 miles in 6 1/2 hours and miss the Clippers home game broadcast vs. San Antonio that night. Lawler has been calling Clippers games (talk about earning combat pay!) since they were the San Diego Clippers in the early 80's. The game was also memorable because the Clippers actually won.

NEW YORK: A report from Newsday was not confirmed at press time that 1010 WINS will soon have a new morning drive sports anchor, and that it would be Sid Rosenberg. Speculation has it that Rosenberg will handle the duties from the WQAM Miami studios each morning and then continue to host afternoon drive on CBS sister station WQAM.

CHARLOTTE: Mark Packer (the son of basketball expert Billy Packer) is no longer hosting afternoons on WFNZ The Fan 610 (as of Thanksgiving weekend) after his contract ran out. The station had guest hosts filling in this past week and has yet to announce a replacement after 13 years with Packer. Yet, Packer continues to syndicate his program to 14 other stations, including Raleigh, Charleston, and Greensboro. In addition, his WJZY-TV 46 "Southern Fried Football" and sports commentary segments will continue as usual.

PROVIDENCE: Providence College basketball remains in the spotlight for 9 straight Thursdays returning January 6th on Sports Radio 103.7 WEEI at 7 PM with the (Coach) Keno Davis Show. Airing live from a local restaurant, the show (which aired last Thursday 12/2) is hosted by Dale Arnold (who co-hosts middays). Arnold is known for having done some play-by-play for the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins over the years and for having been with the station since its inception nearly 20 years ago.