Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Baseball Helping The Radio Ratings Again

The most recent radio ratings are out this week, worth paying close attention to for sports stations since this reflects the busiest time of the sports year. As always, a few key markets worth focusing on.

The Boston sports radio battle is as tight as ever as of the April ratings, which were measured from March 26 to April 22. WEEI-FM and WBZ-FM Sports Hub are now right next to each other, with WEEI-FM at #6 overall and WBZ-FM at #7. The hot start by the Detroit Tigers is heating up The Ticket, as WXYT-FM The Ticket shows a 25% overall audience increase from March to April and is a solid #1 in the entire market. WXYT-FM airs the Tigers games and is a sports station the remainder of the time.

Both sports stations in New York City stayed pretty much the same from the previous ratings period, with both WFAN 660 The Fan and WEPN-FM ESPN showing very slight overall dips, even though WFAN began its second season as Yankees flagship. Ironically, WOR 710 scored its biggest overall audience since last fall, likely based on the hot start by the Mets.

Baseball has an impact on the Los Angeles ratings, as Dodgers flagship KLAC showed a 50% overall audience increase from March into April. Although still nothing to brag about, the station's ratings benefit from the majority of the L.A. market still unable to receive the Dodgers telecasts. Angels primary station KLAA showed a 33% overall audience increase during the same time, although its audience is still roughly only 1/3 of KLAC's. KSPN 710 showed a 10% drop.

San Francisco Giants fans have outdone their rival Dodgers fans on the radio side, as KNBR 680 showed a more than 20% audience increase for April from the previous ratings period. The sports station, which is the Giants' flagship, finished #2 overall in the market. At the same time, KGMZ 95.7 The Game, which is also the Oakland A's flagship station, held steady and has less than 1/3 of the audience size of KNBR.

Dallas' 3 sports stations are closer together than ever. KRLD-FM is now at a 1.8 rating, with KTCK -AM The Ticket at 1.6 and KESN ESPN now with a 1.4. San Diego also showing an increase for sports radio, with XPRS-AM now at #6 overall in the market up to a 4.2. In Baltimore, WJZ-FM showed a nearly 25% overall audience increase over the month and came in at #4 overall in that market.

Sports radio continues to struggle in Atlanta, even with the Hawks going deep into the NBA Playoffs. WZGC-FM lost 1/2 of a rating point over the month, yet still has seven times more listeners than WQXI 790.

Turner Sports is holding on to its NBA studio show for years to come. The network has extended the contracts of Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley for what appears to be in the eight to ten year range.

Over at ESPN, the past week seemingly brought more announcements from the network itself than sports stories it reported on.

The Mike & Mike morning show is moving to Times Square in NYC to enhance its look for ESPN2, and reportedly to be able to have more of their guests on camera rather than just on the phone. This relocation from the Bristol studio could also benefit NYC's WEPN in its hope to be more competitive against rival WFAN.

The Fusion Network will begin airing Dan LeBatard's afternoon ESPN Radio show in the 4-7 PM ET weekday time slot, bringing sports to the little known TV network.

Bill Simmons, who was suspended by ESPN for three weeks last year after his negative comments about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, is not receiving a contract renewal from the Network.
ESPN will again show an NFL Wild Card Playoff game next January, but plans to either move the telecast to ABC or simulcast it with ESPN. This appears to be the result of a little known clause in its contract with the NFL. Clearly NBC, CBS, and Fox can't be pleased that suddenly ABC will suddenly share in the "over the air" NFL post-season ratings bonanza. The most recent NFL telecast on ABC was the Super Bowl game in February of 2006, which will be just a few weeks shy of 10 years earlier.

Long time host Scott Van Pelt has been signed to a multi-year contract extension, which also includes Van Pelt anchoring a late night weeknight edition of SportsCenter.

And, ESPN has finally realized the opportunities it could have to put Dodgers games on so that even fans in the Los Angeles area can see them. After not featuring them once on Sunday Night Baseball during April or May, the Dodgers' June 7th game against St. Louis will be shown nationally, including the L.A. market.

CLEVELAND: It can now be said that 92.3 The Fan has "lowered the Booms". This is certainly not a joke for Chuck Booms, who also appears locally as a stand-up comedian. Booms has been relieved of his morning show co-host duties by the station. At this time, Kevin Kiley remains on the morning show, with no co-host replacement yet named.

CHICAGO: WGN 720 weekend sports host Jarrett Payton will also host a sports talk show on CLTV, the local news cable channel, as well as doing some sports reporting for WGN-TV. If you are wondering about the name, the answer is yet. Jarrett is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Walter Payton. Sister Brittany Payton also works on CLTV hosting a restaurant review program.

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