Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tough Month For Sports Radio

As everyone prepares for the onslaught of Tournament telecasts over the next few days, we have to wonder about the fallout at CBS over the disaster of the show announcing the pairings this past Sunday (3/13). They clearly should have taken our advice and cut the show to 30 minutes tops.

Instead, fans had to put up with technical gaffes as well as too much time given to analysts such as Charles Barkley, who made it quite clear that the NBA is his specialty and that it is not "all" basketball.

While we can understand CBS officials being upset that the pairings were announced on social media, and turned out to be correct, before the CBS telecast "revealed" them, in this instance it is hard to blame the media which jumped on the information. The sources which revealed the matchups did fans a big service by reducing the need to sit through almost an entire two hour show.

The mystery continued into Monday (3/14) when WFAN New York host Mike Francesa claimed during his afternoon show that he knows the source of the leak, but would not reveal it. Frankly, that is hardly "news", since nothing was revealed. Listeners don't know for sure that he knows anything. It may not be a coincidence that WFAN is a CBS owned radio station. It's not like CBS needs any more embarrassment over this.

The February radio ratings have been revealed for the major markets, and it is, understandably, not the most favorable for sports stations. This ratings period begins around Super Bowl time and begins the NFL off-season. It is also while the NBA and NHL are still weeks before the playoffs begin, while MLB spring training games had not begun. College hoops was still in the regular season as well, with all of this combining to be a less urgent time for sports.

In Boston, the two major sports stations continue to hold down top seven overall audience spots. WEEI-FM finished #5, despite dropping a full ratings point, while Sports Hub WBZ-FM came in #7 despite dropping two full ratings points in the month since the January book. Normally, this would be cause for concern, but this is actually a positive when these stations still have strong audiences, and this is likely the low point of the year.

New York City listeners kept WFAN 660 in the top ten overall despite a half-point drop from Januarym, while WEPN-FM held steady with well under half of the audience size of The Fan.

Chicago listeners have a battle on their hands, as WMVP ESPN 1000 overtook WSCR 670 The Score by one-tenth of a ratings point. While this would normally be considered a slim margin, what makes this interesting is that WMVP went up .2 while WSCR dropped by .2. WSCR wins the mornings while WMVP wins the midday and afternoon spots during the week.

In Philly, WIP-FM finished #9 in overall audience despite dropping by .9 of a ratings point. The station figures to show well if the Phillies get off with a decent start as the station begins as the exclusive station airing all of their games on FM only.

What had been a three station battle just a few months back has changed as KTCK-AM The Ticket has broken away from the pack. The station went up to a 2.7 Nielsen rating for February while the other stations both dropped. KRLD-FM, which led The Ticket by .2 in the previous January ratings period, lost 1.1 rating points overall to a 1.8, while KESN-FM dropped .3 down to a 1.1.

The three biggest markets in which sports stations generally struggle showed mostly declines this time around.

Not one of the three Los Angeles sports stations gained. In fact, not one of them shows up in the list of the top 30 stations. KSPN 710 has lost 20% of its small overall audience since December, while KLAC dropped .3 to its lowest standing in several months. KLAA 830 barely shows up with a .2 overall rating. KWFB 980, which had been a sports station for all but the last couple of days of the ratings book, again came in at .2 overall, so that audience leaving the now foreign language station won't have an impact anywhere else. And this is for a market getting an NFL team back in a few months.

In Houston, not one of its four sports stations made the top 20 stations overall, with KILT-AM losing more than 25% from its January audience. KMBE-AM, KFNC-FM, and KGOW-AM combined would only slightly edge KILT-AM, and none of them increased.

Similar story in Miami, where none of its three AM sports stations finished in the top 25 overall. WAXY 790 was the only station to reach the 1.0 rating, just ahead of WQAM 560 and well ahead of WINZ-AM which dropped again for the month.

Yahoo seems to be pleased thus far with its new deal to provide a live stream of up to four NHL games each week in a deal which already is set to run through the 2016-17 regular season. Although revenue figures have yet to be revealed, a Yahoo official was quoted as saying that their hope is to eventually provide a live major sports event stream every day.

The significance to Yahoo is the advertising revenue potential as well as increasing its audience and frequency of visits. For fans, the significance is that these streams are live, free, and do not require any cable or satellite subscriptions to view.

How nice of Fox Sports to allow Dick Enberg to check one more off his bucket list, especially during his final season of play-by-play before his retirement later this year. Enberg, who has been the Padres' TV voice since 2009, will call play-by-play in Detroit for the Tigers game vs. Tampa on Saturday May 21st. As of now, the telecast is scheduled for Fox Sports Detroit, with the hope being that FS1 will eventually share this telecast around the country. (However, this would make sense, so we shall see if Fox Sports does it or not.)

ATLANTA: While the YES Network and Comcast continue their dispute which keeps Yankees telecasts away, and Time Warner Cable and every system continue their dispute in L.A. keeping the Dodgers games a secret, Dish Network and Fox Sports have resolved their dispute over money.

Dish subscribers will now get every available Braves telecast after three seasons of missing out on a 50 game weekend package. Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast will combine to show 157 of the Braves games this season.

CHICAGO: WLS-AM 890, starting its first season ever as flagship station for the White Sox, has added Rachel Brady as a sports reporter starting next week. The station recently hired Connor McKnight as its White Sox pre-game and post-game host along with providing most morning sports updates.

SEATTLE: The Mariners broadcasts will continue on KIRO 710 under the new multi-year contract, which includes both in-season and off-season additional team related programming.

ALBANY: WTMM 104.5 has added Bob Wohlfeld, known as "Wolf" as co-host of its afternoon drive sports show, which now begins at 2 PM instead of the previous 3 PM, and runs until 7 PM. He joins Jeff Levack for the "Levack and Wolf Show". Wohlfeld was heard during morning drive on WPYX 106.5 for over 12 years.

NEW ORLEANS: Sorry to learn of the passing of Marty Mule~ at the age of 73 due to a heart attack last week. In addition to authoring seven sports books, including "Eye of the Tiger: 100 Years of LSU Football", he served as a reporter for the Times-Picayune from 1974 until 2005.

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