Thursday, May 16, 2013

Live Sports Streaming Takes A Turner For The Better

The news that TNT and TBS will begin live streaming is important for sports fans, since it turns out that their live sports programming will be included. This is expected to be operational in time for the TBS coverage of the MLB post-season, and probably for some of their Sunday afternoon regular season telecasts. TNT's stream is also slated to include its NBA regular season and post-season coverage (starting Fall 2013), as well as the TNT/TBS coverage of the NCAA Tournament in March.

Turner plans to have provide apps for phone and computer use. However, viewers will reportedly be required to log in via their cable or satellite provider account information. Yes, I said "However". This would indicate that consumers who have abandoned (or refuse to pay that much in the first place) cable or satellite will not be able to watch either network. By pointing this out, the hope is that TNT and TBS would make their streaming service available, perhaps on a monthly basis, to anyone who wishes to subscribe for a reasonable fee. Otherwise, this is really something that cable and satellite services should already be providing to their customers. We pay a lot of money each month to access the channels, whether we want them or not, and should have options above and beyond TV sets to do so.

The latest radio ratings for April have been released this week, and it remains a mixed bag for sports radio competition in the larger markets.

Boston continues to be the most curious sports radio city, especially with the recent programming changes made by WEEI-FM as it looks to come back against WBZ-FM Sports Hub. Of course, having the Red Sox play-by-play with the team having its best start to a season in at least three seasons helps, as WEEI-FM rose one full ratings point overall from March to April and moved up to #11 overall. As positive as that seems for WEEI, the audience gain did not come from The Sports Hub. WBZ-FM actually increased its total audience again, having grown by nearly a full ratings point since February, and came in at #7 overall. What this does show is that, unlike some other large markets, the demand for sports radio remains heavy in Boston.

San Francisco loves its Giants, as the defending World Champs helped put KNBR 680 back to #1 overall, as it came close to double the audience it had for the previous ratings period!
Yet, even with the A's off to a good start, KGMZ The Game 95.7 showed only a slight increase and remains buried way back in the pack. KNBR now has literally more than six times the overall audience of The Game. Even though it's a one-horse town, it means that sports radio listening is also up in the Bay Area.

Chicago and Dallas both showed slight increases in the sports audiences. Chicago's WSCR 670 The Score finished slightly up at #14 overall while WMVP ESPN 1000, which had the Chicago Bulls broadcasts during their playoff run, held steady with well under half of the total audience of The Score. In Dallas, KTKS The Ticket remains more than a full ratings point in front over KESN ESPN 103.3 even though it held steady for this book. KESN rose .4 during the month while KRLD-FM dropped .2. This results in a .2 overall sports radio audience increase for the month.

In Detroit, the Tigers best start in a few seasons is paying off for WXYT-FM The Ticket, which showed a gain of nearly two ratings points and once again cracked the market's Top 5 stations overall. In Washington D.C., the Nationals' hot start translated into a half point ratings gain for The Fan WJFK-FM, which now has surpassed WTEM after its .3 ratings drop.

No surprise in Cincinnati, where the Reds rule the airwaves and gave WLW 700 more than a 25% overall audience increase in just the one month. Listeners want the play-by-play way more than the typical sports talk fare, however. (WLW is not full-time sports.) WCKY ESPN 1530 continues to have under a 1 rating, while WSAI Fox Sports 1360 somehow managed to drop to a mere .2. Yet, WSAI is above WCFN FM 100 The Fan, which showed up with a .1 overall.

Of course, the sports talk radio situation continues to be stale in both Los Angeles and Houston. In L.A., KSPN 710 held steady this book, but remains out of the Top 20, while KLAC 570, even with Vin Scully calling the Dodgers games, still can't pull even a 1 rating overall. In Houston, the sports radio audience dipped overall. What makes that newsworthy is how little margin there is for that to happen. KILT dropped by .2 overall, but holds the "top spot" among sports stations by being the only station barely above a 1 rating overall. Even with ratings lower than a 1, KBME and KFNC ESPN 97.5 both dropped again, while KGOW once again showed up with .1, the lowest possible rating.

Perhaps the most interesting sports talk market, other than Boston, is going to be Minneapolis over the next few months. The Twins, off to a poor start and in and out of last place, are now on KTWN, which is not a full-time sports station. The station does show a full rating point overall increase for April, which is a lot more impressive than the team itself. Yet, Sports KSTP, the former flagship station of the Twins, has only lost .2 from its overall ratings since February.

You can interpret that in a number of ways. The gain of the Twins station, which otherwise is mostly music, far outweighs the audience loss from KSTP and an audience gain of KFXN The Fan. This is not as hopeless as Cincinnati and Milwaukee (where the play-by-play and not full-time sports stations are miles ahead of the sports stations), but this ratings race bears watching. Oh, and the small station combo of CBS Sports Network stations, WGVX, WGVZ, and WRXP, totaled up to a .5 overall rating.

CHICAGO: Sports totally dominated the local TV scene on Wednesday (5/15) night with two playoff games airing as part of national TV packages. The NBA Playoff telecast in which the Bulls were eliminated by the Miami Heat finished with a local rating of 8.87 (according to overnight numbers), while the Blackhawks round 2 opener win over Detroit came out at 8.13. The games began one hour apart. What makes this even more noteworthy is that there were no local telecasts of either game, meaning that it is likely a percentage of potential viewers were not aware of where to find the game. TNT had the Bulls game, while NBC Sports Network aired the Blackhawks game.

KANSAS CITY: It was a wonderful tribute the Royals allowed within hours of the death of former long-time radio voice Fred White on Wednesday (5/15). Sadly, White passed away that same day at the age of 76 due to Melanoma, just one day after his sudden retirement announcement. White called Royals games from 1974 through 1998 and was associated with the team for 40 years.

The Royals telecast on Fox Sports Kansas City from Anaheim went silent for the top of the first inning as the team's way of remembering and honoring White.

NEW YORK: CBS managed to retain the play-by-play for the Giants and announced a multi-year extension to remain on WFAN 660 and 101.9. The Fan is expected to add more Giants specific programming beginning during training camp and continuing through its regular season coverage. Bob Papa, Carl Banks, and Howard Cross will continue as the broadcast team.

ATLANTA: As the NBA Hawks have concluded their season, one of the changes before next season could very well be on the radio dial. Reports have surfaced that the team could be soaring over to The Game 92.9, with an official announcement possible by the end of this month.

No comments: