Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sports Radio On The Rebound

The radio station ratings start to matter again as the holiday ratings period is officially behind us for the major markets. The month of January was good for news and sports stations (for the most part), including a noteworthy jump by WSCR The Score in Chicago. What adds to the significance is the fact that sports stations generally did not gain from competing stations.

In Boston, WBZ-FM Sports Hub rose significantly from a 5.1 to a 6.9 rating in just the one month, and is now tied for #2 overall in the competitive market.  (3.7 to 5.1) However, the Sports Hub did not cut into rival WEEI-FM's audience one bit. In fact, WEEI-FM rose from a 3.7 to a 5.1 rating during the same period, good for #7 overall. As a result, they combine for what appears to be the highest combined ratings for sports radio in Boston history.

In NYC, WFAN 66 The Fan rose to #7 overall in the market, while WEPN held steady and did not crack the top 20 stations list. In San Francisco, the hot season by the Warriors seems to have picked up for the lack of 49ers and Giants games as KNBR 680 went up from a 3.6 to a 4.3 rating in just the one month, putting back into the Bay Area's top 5 most listened to stations for the January 2015 ratings period.

Even Atlanta and Houston showed some growth from their leading sports stations, with WZGC-FM The Game in Atlanta jumping up to #16 overall from 2.3 to a respectable 3.0. Yet, WQXI 790 turned in a mere .3, barely 10% of The Game's audience. Houston's KILT hit the market's top 20 list with a 2.3 overall rating (#19 overall), which is at least one full ratings point better than any of the other three struggling sports outlets there.

As mentioned, WSCR 670 The Score in Chicago 'scored' with record high ratings in some demographics, moving up to #9 overall in the market with a 3.4 rating. WMVP ESPN 1000 also gained during January, edging up from 1.4 in December to 1.8 for January. (More about WSCR later.)

Detroit listeners returned to WXYT-FM The Ticket, even with the local sports scene being relatively calm, as it went from a 6.2 to a 7.0 rating, good for #2 in the market (behind news station WWJ). Baltimore's WJZ-FM rose to #4 overall as well. while Seattle's KIRO also rose significantly up to #6 overall, obviously helped by the Seahawks' Super Bowl run.

Even in San Diego, XPRS-AM rose to a 3.6 rating, putting it into that market's top 10 most listened to stations.

Well, not every major market did well with sports. In Los Angeles, KSPN failed to show up in the market's top 25 most listened to stations, yet still more than doubled Dodgers flagship (with no games, obviously, this time of year) KLAC 570. Even with the Clippers radio and having moved to full-time sports last fall, KFWB 980 came in with a miniscule .2 overall.

More nice work from the folks at Classic TV Sports, who actually take the time to investigate sports media stories, especially the facts. Earlier this week, several media outlets picked up on the "story" about the UNC vs. Duke basketball game being shown nationally via ESPN, and how Dick Vitale was not assigned to the game. Several stories, including one by the Tampa Bay Times, picked up by (as opposed to "reported" by) different sources, claimed that this would be the first time Vitale has not been assigned to this matchup going back to ESPN's beginnings back in 1979.

The Raleigh News & Observer went further, quoting Vitale about being a "team player" and "going where my bosses tell me to go" regarding going to help call Tuesday's (2/17) Kentucky vs. Tennessee telecast on ESPN instead.

Classic TV Sports later disputed this, pointing out that ESPN assigned Brent Musberger and Jim Valvano to this telecast back on March 7, 1993 (instead of Vitale), and then put a video clip of this telecast on its web site as proof.

While I give a ton of credit to Classic TV Sports, it needs to be pointed out that THIS is why I get so upset at media that merely "reports" what someone else is "reporting" and fails to confirm or deny based on their own resources. It makes me wonder how many other sports (or general news) stories we have all accepted as fact that really are not totally accurate. The writers in Tampa and Raleigh should be mighty thankful that I am not their boss this week.

Baseball fans begin counting down the days as spring training camps open this week, and MLB Network has announced an even bigger increase in its spring training coverage. In addition to its annual "30 Teams In 30 Days" feature, MLB Network has announced its schedule of, get this, 200 spring training telecasts including at least one live game every day for the entire month.

CHICAGO: While WSCR 670 The Score rides its high ratings, which figure to stay in place as the Blackhawks and Bulls race toward the playoffs and the White Sox and Cubs figure to have better seasons, will debut its new midday show on Monday (2/23). Jason Goff, earlier let go from his Atlanta gig, will return to The Score, this time as co-host with Matt Spiegel weekdays from 9 AM to 1 PM.

On the TV side, Comcast SportsNet Chicago is maintaining its high profile Chicago Bears coverage this week. Based on the increased local interest since the Bears changed General Manager and Head Coach, the network has not one, but TWO of its reporters assigned to Indianapolis to report on the NFL Draft Combine as it relates to the Bears. The network also has hired Vincent Goodwill as its new beat reporter for the Bulls, starting within the week.

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