Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Baseball Again 'The Ticket' In Detroit

Just as the NFL is ratings gold for TV, MLB continues to be ratings gold for its local radio stations. The May ratings (late April to late May) are coming out this week, and the impact of the baseball season is evident.

In San Francisco, KNBR 680 is back as the #1 station overall in the market, going up from a 5.4 to a 6.1 rating in just one month. KGMZ-FM The Game, which carries the A's games, still has only about 25% of the audience size of KNBR, but also showed an increase during this ratings period.

Similar story in Detroit whre WXYT-FM The Ticket is a solid #1 in the market, with its overall rating increasing from a 4.7 to a 7.9 over the past three months. Obviously a boost from Tigers baseball.

New York's WFAN, now with the Yankees broadcasts, showed another overall ratings increase as well, while WEPN ESPN also went up, although it now has roughly half of the overall audience of The Fan. WOR, which now has Mets broadcasts, showed an increase in the amount of time listeners spend on the station, one of the goals the station had when it acquired the rights to the Mets games.

Elsewhere, sports talk stations are showing a slight increase in general terms. This is no surprise, given that this ratings period included some of most exciting NBA and NHL playoffs in years along with the MLB season. It continues the trend of the games themselves influencing the sports station listenership rather than the personalities, as some stations would have you believe.

In Chicago, WSCR The Score only edged up slightly, while WMVP ESPN held steady. The market's fairly new WGWG 87.7 The Game inched up to a .6, normally not worth mentioning. What makes this worthy is that the station has doubled up (from a .3) in the past two months. Even with these low numbers, the next ratings period will be a viable test, since The Game was airing Blackhawks playoff games due to conflicts with the Cubs broadcasts on WGN Radio. Not having play-by-play next month will be a better indication.

Dallas listeners are moving around among the three sports stations. KTCK The Ticket held steady, but is now only .1 ahead of KESN-FM which increased. KRLD-FM also gained, increasing its overall rating by .5 to now be within a half-point of The Ticket. This market could get interesting.

In Houston, where the Rockets lasted through the first round of the NBA playoffs and the Astros have started to show a pulse, maybe there is some hope for a sports talk station. KILT and KBME both showed ratings gains and are each over 1 rating for what seems like the first time in ages.

As Atlanta's WQXI 790 begins its bailout (discussed in an earlier column), WZGC The Game showed a 25% ratings increase over one month earlier and now has more than double the audience of WQXI.

The always interesting Boston ratings race is now being dominated by WBZ-FM Sports Hub, which rose to #6 overall at 5.1, while WEEI-FM rose only slightly to a 3.4 rating.

Buffalo's WGR has a different challenge to contend with. (Not that the ratings battle isn't a challenge!) Speculation continues about whether or not the Bills will get ownership that will keep the team in Buffalo has to make a lot of local sports media companies nervous. Losing the Bills means it would only be an NHL city, and a loss of many NFL fans.

To its credit, WGR continues to provide coverage of this important local story. On Monday (6/9) the station got N.Y. Lt. Governor Robert Duffy on the air live to discuss the possibilities for the team. Granted, Duffy had nothing to actually report, and said the expected about thinking the Bills will stay in place, but the station is doing its best to keep its listeners informed.

CBS-TV has revealed its NFL announcing team for the coming season. Among the changes is naming Trent Green as analyst along with Greg Gumbel, replacing the retired Dan Dierdorf. In addition, Spero Dedes, who gave up some of his NYC play-by-play gigs, has successfully landed on the play-by-play crew for CBS, and will be teamed with Solomon Wilcots.

TALLAHASSEE: The Red Hills Broadcasting station group has taken over the broadcast rights to Florida State University games beginning this summer and is scattering the games among its three stations. WWOF 103.1 will air FSU football, while WANK 99.1 will air the basketball games. In addition, WQTL 106.1 will air the baseball games, beginning in 2015. This is all part of a three-year deal.

From a station ownership standpoint, this is a brilliant move. This gives the hardcore FSU sports fans, who would listen to all three sports, reasons to listen to all three of the group owner's stations over the course of a year.

LARAMIE: It's not a University of Wyoming football or basketball broadcast without Dave Walsh. At least it hasn't been since more than 30 years ago. And now that Walsh has signed a contract extension, he will be the play-by-play voice for both sports at least through 2019. Walsh will also continue to host both coaches' radio shows in season. Kevin McKinney has also signed on to continue as analyst.

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