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The Tide Is Turning In The Houston Ratings Race

Jason Barrett

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The January ratings are now available for Houston, and this month there were some new developments which are certain to have one brand celebrating, another frustrated, and a third feeling encouraged but far from satisfied.

The ratings report covers December 31st to January 27th, and during that period SportsTalk 790 (KBME-AM) made some noticeable adjustments to their programming. The radio station moved Matt Thomas to mornings opposite Lance Zierlein, and shifted Adam Clanton from mornings to middays where he debuted a new program alongside former NFL player Sean Jones.

Additionally, Sports Radio 610 KILT made a change to their evening programming, giving Paul Gallant an opportunity to host a solo show.

In analyzing the numbers, here is the comparison for M-Su 6a-Mid among Men 25-54.

  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.4 (tied for 11th)
  • ESPN 97.5 = 2.6 (tied for 18th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.5 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.1 (tied for 39th)

*** 610 added a half of a point from month to month, and 97.5 and 790 also added three tenths of a point. KGOW remained flat. Overall the format saw a spike from the Holiday book to January, but if you go back to the same period last year, KILT is down nearly a full point. They delivered a 4.3 last January. During that same time, 97.5 has gained a point, climbing from 1.6 to 2.6, and 790 is down seven tenths going from a 2.2 to 1.5. KGOW also has seen a major decline dropping from 0.6 to 0.1.

Next up is morning drive M-F 6a-10a. Here’s the Men 25-54 breakdown.

  • ESPN 97.5 = 3.5 (10th)
  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.2 (12th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 2.7 (tied for 16th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.1 (37th)

*** This was the third book in a row where ESPN 97.5 won mornings and they continue to gain share which is very impressive. When you consider that KILT and 790 go with local programming and 97.5 features “Mike and Mike” and 1-hour of the local program “Reality Check” hosted by Dylan Gwynn and Barry Warner, this is a major win for the brand. Making it even more impressive is that one year ago, the station was producing a 1.3 in mornings. This means they’ve gained more than 2 points in morning drive year to year. For KILT the news isn’t bad. They were up month to month and only three tenths away from tying 97.5. They’re also consistent year to year. For 790, they too saw an increase, which is great news given that they recently made a change in mornings. They improved by three tenths of a point from the Holiday book to January. The one concern would be the decline year to year which has seen the brand slip from a 4.1 to 2.7. However, with a new show in place, I’m sure they’re expecting bigger things to come in the future.

When you examine M-F 10a-3p this is what the midday story looks like with Men 25-54:

  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.0 (13th)
  • ESPN 97.5 = 2.4 (tied for 18th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.6 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.1 (tied for 35th)

*** Middays are where KILT regains the lead and holds a comfortable six tenths of a point advantage. However, 790 rew from a 0.9 in December to 1.6 in January which is really strong and indicates that Clanton and Jones may have attracted an extra meter or two. KILT was up a tenth month to month, and 97.5 saw growth as well, picking up four tenths from the Holiday monthly to January. Looking back to the same time last year, KILT has lost 2 points slipping from a 5.0 to 3.0, 790 has dropped eight tenths falling from a 2.4 to 1.6, and 97.5 which has added John Granato to the local mix and also includes Sean Salisbury, has added nine tenths growing from a 1.5 to 2.4. Also, KGOW has fallen hard dropping from 0.9 to 0.1 during the past 12 months. 

Rounding out the key prime time matchups is the afternoon drive slot. Here’s how M-F 3p-7p with Men 25-54 stacked up.

  • ESPN 97.5 = 3.6 (11th)
  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 3.2 (15th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.4 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.0 (tied for 41st)

*** This was a huge win for 97.5 as KILT has consistently led the afternoon battle. Month to month the radio station grew eight tenths of a point, improving from a 2.8 to 3.6, and during the past twelve months that number has risen from 2.3 to 3.6. Congrats are in order for AJ Hoffman, Fred Faour, and Russillo and Kanell who all contributed to the station’s afternoon growth. For KILT, I’m sure they’re not satisfied finishing behind 97.5 but they are only four tenths away, and one ranking position behind. They did experience slight growth month to month going from a 3.0 to a 3.2 but year to year they’ve suffered some bad luck, falling from a 4.9 to 3.2. For 790, they saw slight improvement climbing from a 1.2 to 1.4, but year to year they too are down, dropping from 1.9 in 2015 to 1.4 in 2016. KGOW had no impact for the month and are down 0.6 to 0.0 year to year.

Taking a look at the evenings, where KILT debuted a new program, here’s what the picture looked like M-F 7p-12a among Men 25-54.

  • Sports Radio 610 KILT = 2.5 (18th)
  • ESPN 97.5 = 1.3 (24th)
  • Sports Talk 790 = 1.2 (25th)
  • KGOW 1560 = 0.0 (tied for 39th)

*** It was a good start for KILT’s new evening program, as the show added two tenths month to month. The concern however would be a drop year to year from 3.9 to 2.5. Given though that this is the first month of a new program, we’ll need a longer sample size to see how the changes are received, but so far so good. For 97.5 and 790, this is the area where they’re not as strong. Given that these are the off-peak hours, I’m sure they’re not too concerned about it. 

To summarize, it was a big month for ESPN 97.5. Make no mistake about it, when you win mornings and afternoons and unseat the leading brand in the market, it’s going to be a little sweeter entering the workplace. We weren’t privy to the M-F 6a-7p numbers with Men 25-54 but I’m sure the story is a strong one for 97.5, and as this train continues to pick up steam, I’m sure local and national advertisers are taking notice.

For KILT, they’re used to winning so this isn’t familiar territory. That said, they are only a few tenths of a point away from reversing the latest setback. The real test will come next month when the February monthly offers little play-by-play benefit and the market’s best personalities and content stand out. Their decision to run a trade deadline promotion around their personalities was smart, but only time will tell if it made a difference in the numbers.

Last but not least is 790. Where they have to feel really good is when they look month to month and they see their latest changes paying immediate dividends. To grow four tenths in mornings, and seven tenths in middays is excellent. Now the station needs to continue that momentum in order to make up ground from where they were last year and ultimately unseat one of the top two leading brands.

As for KGOW, they’re in a different category and not a factor in the ratings.

Credit to the Houston Chronicle who were first to report this story

Sports Radio News

16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming

The news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

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Streaming Radio

According to Nielsen, sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.

The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.

Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in their latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets

The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.

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Sports Radio News

New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend

More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

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MLB Radio

When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.

In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.

Radio Listeners to MLB

Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.

Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time

Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

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Jeff Dean Show

Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:

“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

Jeff Dean Facebook

Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”

Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.

Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.

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