While it is probably due to the "in between" period before the NFL season kicks in to high gear, the mid-July to mid-August period was not a good one for a lot of big market sports radio stations, based on the latest Nielsen radio ratings.
In Boston, the two high flying sports stations held steady, with WEEI-FM at #5 overall, while WBZ-FM Sports Hub closed the gap slightly (now .7 behind) coming in at #7 in the market. The usual very strong showing for this format in Boston.
A huge irony in Detroit, where WXYT 97.1 The Ticket fell to #2 in the entire market. The station which passed it was the former WMGC The Game, which earlier this year dumped its dismal showing as a sports station and went to a music format. Obviously it worked.
In San Francisco, the impact is felt from the end of the Warriors season (reflected in the previous ratings book). KNBR 680, while still #1 overall in the market (now tied for #1), lost .5 in its rating (which is one-half of a ratings point) from the previous month, along with just having lost the Warriors broadcasts. (The Warriors move from KNBR to KGMZ starting this coming season, where they will have full priority. On KNBR, they were behind the Giants and 49ers.)
KNBR has little to no reason to be alarmed, since it did not lose anything to what little competition it has for the sports audience. KGMZ-FM The Game also lost .5 of its audience over the same one month period, which in their case was losing nearly one-third of its total audience.
This while KNBR airs the Giants games and KGMZ airs the A's. Over in San Jose, which is among the 40 largest ratings markets in the country and has separate radio ratings, KNBR suffered a drop of 1.3 from the previous month, while KGMZ literally lost more than half of its audience.
While baseball failed to hold the San Francisco audience, the strong season by the Rangers has made a big difference in Dallas for KRLD-FM. The Rangers flagship station is now up .5 over the past two months and has increased its total audience by nearly 75% since the MLB season began. KTCK-AM The Ticket dropped .4 over the last month and now trails by .7, while KESN-FM ESPN now has less than 33% of the audience size KRLD-FM is now enjoying.
Sports radio continues its dismal pace in Houston, where KBME-AM, KILT-AM, and KFNC all combined to gain .1. That was by KILT-AM. However, none of the three stations appears in the market's top 20 most listened to list.
In Philadelphia, WIP-FM holding steady in the ratings (#11 overall) is not the big story. After nine consecutive months of afternoon drive with Josh Innes losing to WPEN The Fanatic, this time around WIP-FM shows more listeners during that time slot. This information comes out one week after Innes was fired days after the phony caller controversy on Mike Missanelli's show on The Fanatic.
In Los Angeles, neither sports radio station made the top 30 most listened to station list. In fact, both KLAC 570 (with the Dodgers broadcasts with the team in contention and Vin Scully's final season) and KSPN dipping from the previous month.
Although it made for some unique live programming, KLAC having a live report from L.A.'s Dedeaux Field (at USC) on Tuesday (8/30) from the Tim Tebow workout for MLB scouts seemed a bit of a stretch for a station looking for a bigger audience.
Also in Houston, it's a brilliant move for KGOL 1180 ESPN Deportes and still more publicity for NFL games. The Texans' Spanish language flagship station has increased its radio network by adding three special affiliates to its network. What makes this big news is that those stations are XEN 690 Mexico City, XEDKR 700 Guadalajara, and XESTN 1540 Monterrey. This gives the team unprecedented live radio coverage in Mexico. In addition, the Spanish broadcasts will also air on KHHL 103.1 San Antonio, and in El Paso on XEJ 970 from nearby Juarez.
If you don't think that Spanish broadcasts are important for the Texans, keep in mind that the new #1 most listened to station in the new ratings book is KLTN, which is a Spanish station.
Mike Torico will handle play-by-play for NBC's first three Notre Dame Football telecasts instead of Dan Hicks. One of those games will be on Sept. 17th when N.D. takes on Michigan State in a prime time telecast. That will be an interesting TV ratings night, as Fox has Ohio State vs. Oklahoma as their feature game that same evening.
Torico will also begin as studio host on Sunday Night Football, replacing Bob Costas in that role.
On Sunday Sept. 18th, when CBS has the NFL doubleheader game, Fox Sports plans to test the waters with adjacent MLS soccer telecasts. Fox will show games at 2 PM ET or at 5 PM ET, depending on whether the local station has an early or late NFL telecast.
In a welcome move for NBA fans, ESPN is finally moving Doug Collins out of the disastrous studio show and back to being a game analyst. He is expected to work 25 to 30 telecasts for ESPN and ABC this coming season. No word yet on who will be brought in for the pre-game, half-time, and post-game studio segments instead. Maybe this will be taken as the chance to blow it up and start all over again for that part of their telecasts.
beIN Sports is ready for its Conference USA football telecasts to begin this weekend. The network has added Donovan McNabb as a studio analyst for its weekly telecasts. This Saturday it shows the New Mexico vs. UTEP game. However, while the network has a streaming service, their web site fails to show (or it isn't easily found) any TV stations carrying the telecasts.
Sirius/XM begins its expanded college football coverage this weekend when it offers 60 live games to its subscribers. In addition to its previous deals to carry Notre Dame, USC, and Texas broadcasts, the service now airs select Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, Big East, and Pac-12 games. In addition, its College Sports Nation channel now airs several of the coaches shows during the week.
Fox Sports is planning a special pre-game show on Sept. 11th, which is also opening Sunday of the NFL season. The Fox NFL Sunday show will originate from Houston, where the Texans open against the Chicago Bears. This gives Fox the chance to showcase in Houston, for which it only gets either one or two Texans telecasts each season (barring a flex game trade), and to better serve the usual large Chicago audience.
Those interested in pre-season telecasts should be aware that the anticipated major storm in Florida has caused the NFL to move up the Washington at Tampa game by one full night. The game will air live on NFL Network (as well as in the local markets) on Weds. 8/31 at 8 PM ET, instead of its previously scheduled Thursday Sept. 1 time.
CHICAGO: Baseball fans received a wonderful treat this past Sunday (8/28) when Comcast SportsNet Chicago partnered with SportsNet L.A. and carried the 3rd inning of the Cubs vs. Dodgers game with Vin Scully on the call.
Scully spent much of the time talking to the Chicago audience (which was probably significantly larger in Chicago than in L.A. where 70% of the market can't get those telecasts).
At the same time, the TBS national telecast was blacked out in Chicago, but not in Los Angeles. Ironic that, even for the one inning, more people in Chicago could hear Scully while most fans in Los Angeles had the national call.
This coming Sunday's (9/4) TBS telecast of the Giants and Cubs will be available in both markets as well as nationally.
KANSAS CITY: While the Royals try to make a comeback into the post-season race, the fans are taking notice. The Monday (8/29) telecast of their game, vs. the Yankees, on Fox Sports Kansas City had the highest ratings ever for a Royals telecast, higher than any other station in the K.C. market. At the game, the team had its smallest crowd of the entire season.