Thursday, November 2, 2017

Speculation About A Competitor??

It's always curious when one media organization reports on another, but it's even more curious when it is speculation and not actual news. The Sporting News reported earlier this week that there will be another round of cutbacks and jobs eliminated at ESPN between now and the end of the year.

Perhaps it is showing how much social media as well as the level of media "reporting" what other media sources are saying has risen, but this still seems odd. Reporting that "ESPN staffers are worried" is an obvious poke at the competition. If this winds up being the case, watch The Sporting News brag about how they were the first to report this. As if people would think ESPN or another media outlet would have "reported" it sooner?
As it is ESPN has another problem to face. The word is that construction delays in Manhattan have set back the scheduled opening of the network's new studio at South Street Seaport. Because of this, the studio will not be ready by late December as planned, which means that the new Mike Greenberg (solo) show on the TV side will not start from that location.

No word yet as to whether Greenberg's show will instead originate from another studio (such as ABC or WABC-TV) in the New York City area or be based out of Bristol where in studio guests are tougher to come by. ESPN might have this to contend with after breaking up the Mike & Mike Show after so many successful years.

Even with the NFL calling more attention to its regular season games in London, as evidenced by word "leaking" as to which teams will play there next season, the streaming of regular season games overseas is bringing on some issues. Game Pass Europe, the app which allows streaming of a number of regular season games, has been plagued by technical difficulties over the past month. Subscribers have been refunded 20% of their fees, including those who did not experience any problems.

But that's not all. The company which supports the App was caught posting fake reviews about the performance of the app, as reported by The Independent. The publication obtained an internal e-mail from within Delatre (the company in question) in which a manager instructed staff members to post the fake reviews.

Here in the States, and other countries, the Amazon streaming of Thursday Night Football telecasts has been a success thus far in the season, reporting more than seven million streams for its first four games. The results show a large improvement over the numbers which Twitter generated last year with this streaming package.

The Nielsen Radio Ratings for the mid-September to mid-October period were released this week with a few very interesting markets. Although we usually lead with sports radio crazed Boston, which has another success story, this month Minneapolis is making the biggest ratings splash.
The solid start by the Vikings and the post-season run by the Twins (even though it lasted one game) boosted KFXN The Fan by more than 20% of an already impressive total audience from just the previous month. KXFN rose 1.7 ratings points and finished #1 overall in the market.

On the other side of the ledger are the two markets which produced the teams making for one of the most exciting World Series ever. While it's true that these ratings are from before the World Series participants were determined, both teams were in first place and starting their post-season runs.

Neither Houston or L.A. generate decent ratings out of their full-time sports stations anyway. In Los Angeles, it's interesting that KSPN 710 actually finished with a 20% larger audience than KLAC 570, which airs and is partially owned by the Dodgers. Even worse, neither of those stations showed up in the top 25 in the market.

Houston's sports radio audience went up only one-half of a ratings point between its three stations, and this is with the Astros run and a decent start by the Texans. KILT-AM did rise .3 to a 2.0 overall rating, which is more than KBME-AM and KFNC-FM had combined. Yet, not one of these stations finished in the market's top 20. The next ratings period will tell a lot about where Houston sports radio is at.

Of course, Boston's two all sports stations came in strong, as expected with the Red Sox post-season run along with the Patriots regular season underway. WEEI-FM rose another one-half point and finished at #2 overall in the market. What makes that even more amazing is that its competition WBZ-FM Sports Hub rose an entire ratings point and finished #5 overall. Two of the top five stations in a large market like Boston for one format is amazing enough, and an even more special accomplishment for sports stations.

The Yankees run to almost make it to the World Series boosted both sports stations in New York City. WFAN rose .6 of a ratings point to finish #6 overall in the market, its largest rating since going to FM. WEPN ESPN also increased, rising .4 although with under one-third of the audience of The Fan.

Same story in Chicago with the Cubs run to the post-season. WSCR 670 The Score went up a full ratings point and came in at #4 in the market. WMVP ESPN 1000 rose .4 although its audience is well under half of WSCR.

Philadelphia sports is a big deal these days, with the Eagles off to their best start in years and more hope for the Sixers in the new season. WIP-FM got a huge boost from Angelo Cataldi and the morning show, which finished #1 in morning drive for the month and helped put WIP-FM into the #2 most listened to station position. The station is also #1 on the weekends.

Denver's KOA 850 is always strong in the ratings (and not an all sports station) and its play-by-play, including the Rockies, is making a difference. The station came in #1 at night and #2 on the weekends.

Meanwhile, it is often interesting to hear/see how competing sportscasts handle certain stories or even which story they lead with on a busy sports day. Of course, certain stations will make a certain team or story a priority based on a team it broadcasts. There are, however, times when the decision can be extreme.

On Wednesday (11/1), WBBM-AM 780 Chicago went to its usual 2:15 PM sportscast, hosted by Sports Director Jeff Joniak. His "lead story" was about how the Chicago Bears coaching staff continues to work with QB Mitch Trubisky, who has now started four games in his young NFL career. This was the "lead story", and included a sound bite from the Bears QB coach.

What's wrong with this picture? For one thing, the coming weekend (11/5) is a bye week for the Bears, who don't even play their next game until November 12th. Their record is 3-5 and they are not even considered to be in the post-season hunt.

My reason for listening to this (and other sportscasts) at that time? This was five hours before the start of Game 7 of the World Series., the start of a home game for the Chicago Blackhawks, and roughly four hours before the start of a Chicago Bulls road game. Neither Chicago team had played a game since the previous Saturday.

I listened because I was curious to hear if Joniak would lead with the baseball OR the Blackhawks. It was neither.

Of course, WBBM is the flagship station for the Bears and Joniak does the play-by-play. Every sportscast on the station (as much as two per hour seven days a week) ends with "on your home of the Bears......" and a promo.

Hyping a meaningless game 10 days in advance ahead of a big national story and two local teams is going too far.

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