Thursday, October 15, 2015

Will It Play In New York?

With all of the baseball ratings and other media stories this week, it is understandable that a couple of stories would fly under the radar. What is most amazing, however, is that one of those stories in taking place in New York City. Actually, it is what is NOT taking place in NYC.

Last week the NHL's New York Islanders played their historic first home game in Brooklyn, now sharing the three year old arena with the NBA's Nets. The Islanders, which have yet to change their name from their 40+ years of playing on Long Island, seem to have made an even more drastic mistake (than not renaming the team or at least officially becoming a Brooklyn team) in establishing themselves in Brooklyn.

It seems that Islanders management overlooked getting the team on a "big name" New York City radio station. Then again, they were struggling to get on a "name" station in the Nassau area where they played their home games all along until now.

For the second consecutive season, the Islanders games are originated on WRHU 88.7 Hempstead, which is a non-commercial station operated out of Hofstra University. To this point, all the Islanders have been able to do is get the games on WNYE 91.5, which happens to be owned by the City of New York. The team's "network" only includes one other radio station, which is a commercial station. However, that station is WRCN Riverhead 103.9 "Long Island News Radio".

Here the team is needing to promote their Brooklyn presence, and they didn't even get a major radio station to support them.

The other "quiet" story this week is again by way of the NFL and its own push to control content that goes to the public. Protecting game action video and reports is one thing. The Wall Street Journal reported that the League has been requesting that certain social media links to "pirated" highlights be taken down as part of its "copyright enforcement program". While this is understandable, given the billions of dollars it receives for rights fees, there is the matter of the NFL having its own YouTube channel and other outlets for game video.

This could be a matter of the NFL putting out highlights they want people to see, while stopping those with plays and comments which could be considered unflattering.

On to baseball, where an exciting post-season translates to record ratings all around, which figure to continue, especially on the National League side with the top markets involved. (Press time was hours before Game 5 between the Mets and Dodgers.)

TBS kicked major butt on Monday (10/12) with its National League doubleheader which averaged 5,000,000 viewers and increases of more than 30% over its telecasts last year. The St. Louis market drew a 27.7 rating, huge when you consider the game was only available via cable/satellite, while the Chicago audience was the highest for a post-season baseball game since the 2005 World Series clincher by the White Sox.  Later that night, the Mets vs. Dodgers telecast peaked with an average of 5,900,000 viewers, with the New York market generating the largest audience for a Mets game since 2012.

On the American League side, it depends on who you ask. The Sunday telecast of K.C. vs. Houston on MLB Network was the second highest ever for the Network, yet was by far the lowest rated of any of the weekend (and Monday) post-season telecasts. In a curious development from Monday's (10/12) K.C. vs. Houston telecast, the local Kansas City market rating was slightly more than double that of the local Houston audience.

Texas Rangers fans have the right to be upset when it wound up that not one of the five games between the Rangers and Blue Jays was played in prime time. Many expect Toronto vs. K.C. in the ALCS to suffer a similar fate because of the largest markets in the NLCS.

One nice thing about the Division Series telecasts was that at least a couple of the teams' flagship radio stations made the effort to sync up their local announcer feeds to the network telecasts in an effort to serve those viewers who prefer the home town call. Dallas' 105.3 The Fan went as far as to publicize their effort to do so, while those fans who thought to do so noticed that Chicago's WBBM 780 did the same thing for the Cubs vs. Cardinals telecasts on TBS. Then again, the Sunday Rangers game was farmed out to KRLD-AM (only) due to The Fan's coverage of the Cowboys game vs. New England, even though the two games did not directly conflict.

Congrats to the Big Ten Network which showed how far along it has come this past Saturday (10/10), even with MLB playoffs and college telecasts including Notre Dame on other networks.

BTN generated its best day of viewership in the history of the Network, smashing the previous viewership record (set in 2014) by approximately 30%. It finished as the top rated cable network in markets including Baltimore, Detroit, and Washington D.C., along with the obvious ones such as Columbus and Dayton (Ohio State territory). Among its games were Ohio State vs. Maryland and Northwestern vs. Michigan.

DETROIT: 97.1 WXYT The Ticket has punched through a multi-year renewal for both the Tigers and the Red Wings for the currently top-rated station. One element of the new contract is the expansion of teams related programming on sister stations in the local CBS Radio cluster, including news station WWJ 950.

MINNEAPOLIS: Timberwolves fans wondering why the team traded to bring back Kevin Garnett late last season now have a better idea of why. The team is more marketable, as evidenced by the multi-year extension for WCCO 830 to air the games, keeping the team from returning to KFAN 1130. With so many pro teams moving to FM and/or to less known AM stations, it's nice to have a pro team airing on a 50,000 powerhouse which gives them coverage over an extended area. This will be nice for NBA fans around Wisconsin and the Midwest who will be able to hear the Bucks games (Eastern Conference) out of Milwaukee and the Wolves (Western Conference) games via WCCO.

ST. LOUIS; KMOX 1120 has the Blues once again. Not because of any ratings difficulties, but into the 41st season of airing the NHL Blues. For this new season, the station has expanded to a 30-minute post-game show, and is adding three more weekly shows focused on the Blues during the season. Now that the Cardinals season is over, KMOX will air all games, at least until early April when baseball arrives again, as KYKY FM98 had aired some of the early season Blues games during conflicts.

SAN JOSE: It's not often a Fox and Sharks work together, but KUFX K-Fox 98.5 has agreed to a multi-year extension as the flagship station of the NHL Sharks. Like with the Red Wings in Detroit, the deal includes additional Sharks related programming and coverage on sister station KGMZ 95.7 The Game. KGMZ is the flagship station for the Oakland A's.

CHICAGO: WLS 890 has already begun its coverage of the White Sox even though their season ended earlier this month and the game broadcasts do not debut until March. The station now airs "White Sox Weekly" on Saturdays, currently prior to the station's Notre Dame Football coverage, and then at a regular time to be determined starting in December.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago has hired Siera Santos as a reporter and anchor, replacing Jen Lada, who left several weeks ago to begin at ESPN Radio. Santos was most recently with KCBS/KCAL TV in Los Angeles as a weekend reporter. CSN Chicago still needs to add one additional anchor, having not renewed the contract of Aiyana Cristal last week.

INDIANAPOLIS: WFNI The Fan 1070 is about to add a third signal to the market in order to provide listeners with the option of local sports programming or ESPN Radio national. The Fan, also simulcast on Frankfort IN 107.5, will move that FM simulcast over to recently acquired 93.5 FM, and include only national ESPN content on 107.5.

This is a also a smart move for Emmis Communications, which also owns news radio WIBC-FM 93.1, which means that their news and sports stations will be right next to each other on the FM dial once this move is complete.

DES MOINES: KBGG 1700 is already dumping a large percentage of its sports talk programming and going with general talk as of this week. As of this week "Big 1700" will be local sports talk from Noon to 6 PM with the "Jimmy B and TC Show" at Noon followed by Marty Tirrell and Ken Miller at 3:00. The station will continue to air Northern Iowa football and basketball.

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