Sports Radio News
The Ticket Leads The Present; The Fan Looks To The Future
If you only look at what appears on the surface, sometimes you can miss developing trends. In Dallas, there are some signs to keep an eye on that could impact the landscape of the ratings race in the future.
At this time though, The Ticket is on a roll with Men 25-54. That’s especially evident in mornings where The Musers continue to deliver double digit ratings and one of the best performances in the format across the country. What Jeff Catlin and his team have done to perform at an elite level over a consistent period is very impressive.
However, as we’ve seen over the past few months, the ratings can turn quickly in the Metroplex. It was only this past fall and last summer when The Fan was in front.
If you’re inside the offices of The Ticket, you’d attribute The Fan’s success to play by play. Being the radio partner of the Dallas Cowboys, and Texas Rangers certainly has its ratings benefits. You’d also remind advertisers of how the two stations measure up during prime time programs when play by play isn’t a central part of the conversation. The winter ratings would seem to support The Ticket’s case.
But with baseball back in full swing, that’s a positive for The Fan. As I’ve said before, there’s no reason for them to apologize for providing games that local fans want to hear. With the Rangers expected to be in contention, that local enthusiasm and interest should carry over to the radio station’s weekday programs.
Despite the play by play details, I was curious to see how Men 18-34 were responding to The Fan, and what the radio station’s performance looked like over the past three years. The reason that’s important is that the competition between the two top sports radio brands has become stronger over the past few years, and The Fan skews younger with its weekday shows.
To become a premier brand in a market takes a lot of time, and persistence. By endearing the brand and its personalities to younger listeners, Gavin Spittle is counting on a long-term play for his brand.
If there’s a positive for the radio station to hang their hat on, it’s that they’ve been the preferred sports radio option among Males 18-34 for the past 14 months. That should give the brand great confidence about its future.
Additionally, when you look at the past three years among Men 25-54, The Fan has grown from a 2.6 (16th) in March of 2014, to a 2.8 (14th) in March of 2015, to a 3.6 (9th) in March 2016. That shows that they’re making strides.
It’s customary to want to win each ratings book, but if you’re inside the halls at The Fan, you have to acknowledge that The Ticket is a dominant force and they’re going to enjoy some wins. To knock them down to #2 status on a regular basis is going to be a very difficult task. They’ve established a strong brand and lineup, and have more than two decades of success in the format.
That’s why The Fan’s connection to the younger demo is important. If they can grow with the younger demographic and remain healthy in the current environment, that bodes well for their future. A Rangers world series and Cowboys Super Bowl probably wouldn’t hurt either!
Although the signs for The Fan are strong with their younger audience, and the consistent growth during the past three years has to make them feel like they’re headed in the right direction, the one area that can’t be overlooked is the powerful performance of The Ticket among Men 25-54. What The Musers, Hardline, Norm Hitzges and Donovan Lewis have produced this month, and during the first quarter of 2016 is worthy of a tip of the cap.
Sometimes when you compete head to head, it’s difficult to acknowledge a competitor’s success. But, just as The Ticket had to accept the fact that they were knocked from the top spot last summer and fall, The Fan has to do the same this month.
The beauty of it is that this is last month’s performance. It’s already forgotten. All eyes now will turn towards the April book.
If you’re at The Ticket, you’re looking to keep the momentum building during the weekday shows, and hoping that the lead you’ve built over the past three months is strong enough to sustain the return of Rangers baseball. The Ticket has won in the spring and summer in the past despite the challenge, and I’m sure they expect to do the same this time around.
For The Fan, you’re counting on a great lift from the Rangers, continued quality and consistency from your talk shows, and the return of the Cowboys this summer/fall. When all of those things are clicking, the radio station gets a big ratings boost, and that makes the competition a close one. It’s even helped them ascend to the top of the mountain.
Now let’s take a closer look at the head to head comparisons for March:
- The Ticket = 10.6 (1st)
- ESPN 103.3 = 4.0 (6th)
- The Fan = 3.5 (7th)
*** The Musers remain the highest rated sports program in the market and perform higher than the two other morning shows combined. Even scarier is that the show picked up a half a ratings point between February and March. For Shan and RJ, they’ve closed the gap on Mike and Mike. Their show also added a half of a point and climbed from 8th to 7th. Mike and Mike meanwhile gained one tenth but dropped from 5th to 6th. Overall, three sports morning shows in the Top 7 is really impressive, and speaks to the Dallas market’s appetite for sports radio content during the morning commute.
- The Ticket = 6.9 (2nd)
- The Fan = 3.3 (10th)
- ESPN 103.3 = 1.3 (26th)
*** Norm Hitzges and Donovan Lewis are on a roll and gained three tenths of a point and rose from 3rd to 2nd. G-Bag Nation did return back to the Top 10 thanks to adding eight tenths of a point. ESPN 103.3 continues to lag far behind. They were down two tenths and lost two ranking positions.
- The Ticket = 8.1 (1st)
- The Fan = 4.6 (5th)
- ESPN 103.3 = 2.0 (22nd)
*** The Ticket took the top spot again, but were flat. Given that they’re turning in an 8 share, I’m sure they don’t mind. For Ben and Skin, this was a great month. The show returned to the Top 5, and grew from a 3.2 to 4.6. That was the best improvement month to month out of any of the key weekday 6a-7p shows. For ESPN 103.3 they’re down one tenth and two ranking positions.
- The Fan = 7.1 (1st)
- The Ticket = 2.1 (20th)
- ESPN 103.3 = 2.1 (20th)
*** The Fan has to feel great about this. K&C Masterpiece finished 1st and were ahead of The Ticket and ESPN 103.3 by five full points. The Ticket doesn’t put a lot of stock in their evening programming, but there does remain interest in evening listening in the market, and K&C have tapped into that and deserve credit for seizing the opportunity.
- The Ticket = 8.4 (1st)
- The Fan = 3.8 (7th)
- ESPN 103.3 = 2.4 (16th)
*** A big month again for The Ticket. That’s now back to back months in 1st place. They’ve started the year with nothing less than a 2nd place finish which has to give the talent and sales team a lot of confidence heading into the spring, summer and fall. On the other hand, The Fan has to feel good about gaining nine tenths of a point month to month. That’s a positive sign heading into the April book. ESPN 103.3 was flat month to month but lost one ranking position.
- The Ticket = 6.4 (2nd)
- The Fan = 3.6 (9th)
- ESPN 103.3 = 2.2 (19th)
*** The Ticket has finished 3rd, 2nd and 2nd over the past three months, and are comfortably ahead in this matchup. The real question will be, how does The Fan cut into that lead with the return of baseball? If the Rangers perform well, their play by play should help The Fan close the gap. That said, the radio station still grew by eight tenths during the past month so that’s great news entering the spring book. Last but not least, ESPN 103.3 had their worst performance of the quarter, losing six tenths month to month.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports Radio News
Mike Florio: Chris Simms Isn’t Desensitized to Internet Criticism
“Chris takes a lot of crap. I take a lot of crap. I’ve been doing it a lot longer than Chris, and I think sometimes Chris just kind of reaches the end of the rope.”
Chris Simms caught some heat this week while discussing the death of Miami Dolphins fan Eric Carmona. Carmona was the brain behind the Tuanon viral videos, which featured him in a Dolphin mask attacking critics of Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Simms was one of his frequent targets.
Carmona was killed in a motorcycle accident last week. He leaves behind a wife and four children. He was just 30 years old.
Mike Florio brought the story up on Pro Football Talk Live, because Tagovailoa himself donated $10,000 to a GoFundMe campaign to support Carmona’s family. Simms responded by noting that Carmona was a frequent critic of his.
Florio pushed back saying that trolling is better than being ignored. People are passionate about their teams and if they are passionate about attacking you for criticizing their teams, it means you matter to them.
“This is a deep subject and I think it’s societal and I won’t go into it because I’m only going to get myself in trouble,” Simms responded. “We’re also setting an example like, ‘Hey here’s money to a guy who was very negative too.’ That’s all I’m saying.”
On Friday, Florio made his weekly appearance on WQAM in Miami. Morning show host Joe Rose asked Florio what Simms was thinking with those comments.
“I don’t know. That’s a question for Chris, and you could invite him on and he could talk about that,” Florio answered. “And I’m not trying to be flippant by saying that. I understand the way he feels from my perspective.”
He did try to explain the point he was making to Simms in saying that being trolled is better than being ignored. He reminded Rose that there is a thick skin required to having the kind of jobs they do.
“Chris takes a lot of crap. I take a lot of crap. I’ve been doing it a lot longer than Chris, and I think sometimes Chris just kind of reaches the end of the rope. He doesn’t actively participate in Twitter. He has one of the producers at NBC that primarily updates his account. So I don’t think he’s become as desensitized to it as I have over the years.”
Simms caught heat earlier this week from another fan base. Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie of the WIP Morning Show ripped the NBC analyst for ranking Jalen Hurts as the seventh best QB in the league.
Sports Radio News
Stoney & Jansen Baffled By NBA Finals TV Schedule
“They’ve got to get up early on the [West] Coast. We’ve got to stay up late because Monday Night Football can’t start until 8:30. It goes both ways.”
The NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final continue with games taking place this weekend, and many basketball and hockey fans are expected to tune in to watch the action. The Denver Nuggets will try to take a 3-1 series lead on the Miami Heat, while the Vegas Golden Knights will look to rebound from an overtime loss to return home one win away from a championship. Aside from the pomp and circumstance, there is considerable intrigue pertaining to the action on both the court and the ice. The challenging part of the entire situation is knowing when the games are played due to the disjointed nature of the schedule.
Throughout the NBA Finals, games have taken place three days apart from one another, while the Stanley Cup Final has followed a similar pattern but both avoid playing games on Sundays. As a result, there were only two days between the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, but three for the remainder should it reach a deciding seventh game. Similarly in basketball, the first three games of the NBA Finals were played every other day, but the remainder of the series is scheduled with two days of rest. There is a chance the decision was made to accommodate travel schedules, as both series are aligned in a 2-2-1-1-1 pattern, meaning the first two games are played in one city; the next two are played in the other; and then they continue to alternate until a champion is crowned.
“I don’t know why the NBA’s not playing on Sunday,” 97.1 The Ticket morning co-host Mike Stoney said. “That big travel day – because you really need travel days nowadays with your private planes to fly from Miami to Denver.”
Show co-host Jon Jansen, who played 10 seasons in the NFL as an offensive tackle with Washington and Detroit, expressed how some players may need to acclimate themselves to the altitude in Denver, Colo. The city is located 5,280 feet, or one mile, above sea level, making the air thinner and dryer and presenting some visitors with difficulty breathing. Jansen never felt the effects of altitude sickness, claiming that it was never a big deal for him, but obviously, everyone reacts to things differently.
“Basketball in particular and hockey because it’s constant running, especially at your position,” Stoney proposed. “You’re not running like madmen [in football] like they do in basketball where I think it affects you the most.”
The schedule also presents challenges for consumers around the United States living in different time zones. The NBA Finals do not begin until 8:30 p.m. EST, and the games often do not include until close to midnight. Especially on weeknights, asking East Coast fans to stay up late and then go to work early in the morning limits the amount of sleep they can receive. Meanwhile, those on the West Coast are just returning home from a standard eight-hour workday and may have other tasks to carry out.
“They’ve got to get up early on the [West] Coast,” Jansen said. “We’ve got to stay up late because Monday Night Football can’t start until 8:30. It goes both ways.”
There is no perfect time slot that will appease all consumers, but even so, ratings for this year’s NBA Finals have exceeded most expectations. Game 3 attracted an average audience of 11.2 million viewers and peaked at a figure of 12.4 million, down 2.5% from last year’s third game of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors. Viewership for the first three games of the NBA Finals is averaging 11.6 million, representing a nearly 2% decline from last year’s numbers. ESPN reported its most-watched playoffs across its platforms in the last 11 years, with the total playoff viewership audience averaging approximately 6.1 million people.
Sports Radio News
Colin Cowherd: I Have Tried to Invest in MLS Teams Twice
“I think they’re smart. I think they’re boutique stadiums, their fanbases feel European. The in-game environment’s excellent.”
Could we have seen FOX Sports Radio host Colin Cowherd having some sort of ownership stake in an MLS team? Cowherd said he tried, and then he tried again.
Talking about Inter Miami adding global superstar Lionel Messi on Thursday, Cowherd mentioned that he inquired about getting involved with the league, but the asking price at this point is too much for him.
“I have twice tried to invest in the MLS, and I just can’t afford it,” Cowherd said. “I think they’re smart. I think they’re boutique stadiums, their fanbases feel European. The in-game environment’s excellent. The academy is slowly becoming something, but it is becoming something their academy system. And they are now on a regular basis going and getting the world’s biggest soccer stars.”
Colin pointed out that Messi is the most popular athlete in the world, boasting social media followings and name recognition that easily eclipses that of superstar athletes like LeBron James and celebrities like the Kardashians and Beyonce. So not only is Messi’s signing a monumental moment for Inter Miami owner David Beckham, but it’s a feather in the cap signing for Major League Soccer as a whole.
“Messi is massive for the MLS. It’s the biggest moment in the history of the franchise,” he said. “Think Beckham times two. And Beckham was big when he arrived here in the States.”
“I think it’s cool that the MLS, our domestic soccer league, can go out and bring a superstar – not a star, a mega superstar on our soil regularly,” he added.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.