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The Ticket Wins The Month of May In Dallas

Jason Barrett

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To those on the outside who don’t understand how radio ratings work, it’s easy to get fooled. Many people look at the higher and lower shares delivered by stations and place credit or blame on brands without having a deeper understanding of how they measure success.

Most sports stations analyze their performances on a quarterly and annual basis. Weekly and monthly reports are important to judge how a brand is progressing, and to study which trends a station should pay closer attention to. Every programmer wants to see their station ahead of their competitor and atop the ratings ladder, but they also understand that it can disappear quickly if literally one person carrying a meter goes on vacation or is removed as a panelist.

The purpose in telling you that is to recognize that the system is extremely weak, and not entirely reflective of how people listen in most markets. Further complicating the picture is digital and mobile listening. Nielsen, the company which measures radio listening, is starting to adapt and measure total audience of radio stations. But even their abilities to capture total listening have flaws. Stations can see detailed data for their digital listening sessions, and although the ratings company is making improvements, it still has a long ways to go.

This is why Nielsen states that radio stations shouldn’t include combined listening totals because it’s yet to provide consistency for all brands in each market. In Dallas, and Philadelphia, this has been a major issue. Unless a media reporter has a full grasp on how the industry works, it’s easy to muddy the situation.

I can see both sides of the argument. Should a station that has great digital ratings not include them in their total audience reports? Of course they should. But, if the measurement company is erratic and not providing a full sample for all stations in a given market, then it makes it silly to provide data for one brand, and not for the others.

I’d love to see the industry reach the point where each station involved has an over the air rating, digital rating, and total combined rating. The measurement system won’t ever be perfect but at least at that point we’d have an even playing field.

For this particular piece, we focus on the city of Dallas, where we have a case of two different stories being told. In print, the Dallas News has made it a point to showcase the strength of The Ticket by featuring it’s combined data between the over the air ratings, and their streaming numbers. The only problem with that story is that the same data isn’t being provided for The Fan and ESPN 103.3 By doing that, it creates confusion in the marketplace, and presents an image that one brand is even further out in front than they really are.

To be clear, The Ticket right now is the market’s leading sports radio brand. There’s no confusion there. They deserve to be recognized, and should feel great about the roll they’re on. Their talent is exceptional and the connection they’ve formed with the local audience is powerful. This isn’t to take away from their accomplishments because regardless of digital data being added, they’d still be in the top position.

The issue is that digital data should not factor into the total ratings report just yet. Here’s why. In the M-F 6a-7p category, there are only two stations in the entire market showing digital ratings – The Ticket, and WBAP News Talk 820. Do we really believe that only two out of sixty radio stations in Dallas have an audience listening on their desktop or mobile phone? Of course not. What if I told you that seven people are responsible for that digital performance?

A great way to look at this in many cases is to ask the radio station owner the following question – if your talent/show receive ratings bonuses based on how they perform in the over the air ratings, and they finish one spot away from hitting a bonus, but with streaming numbers added, would hit that bonus, would you add the numbers and give them the additional money? Most would not.

Making the issue even more complex is that all of these stations can see reports that show how many listeners stream their shows, which devices they listen on, how long they stay, and how many times the app gets downloaded. When Nielsen tells sixty stations they have no digital audience, yet they all see data which counters that argument, it makes it really difficult to take the information seriously. Nielsen is working to make this better, but as of right now, they aren’t where they need to be for digital to be part of the total picture.

For the sake of being fair, we’re going to show you how Dallas looks WITHOUT digital data included. The three sports talkers involved have to live with these results whether they like them or not because each of their companies have made investments in over the air ratings measurement, and these are the results. Whether 10, 20 or 30 listeners determine them or not is irrelevant because all brands know the deal going into each month’s report. This is what salaries, bonuses, and ad rates are often determined by, so until someone changes it, it’s the report we’ll stick with providing.

Here’s the results for May in Dallas!

M-SU 6a-Mid

  • The Ticket = 8.0 (1st)
  • The Fan = 4.8 (6th)
  • ESPN 103.3 = 2.1 (19th)

*** The Ticket wins the full week and has now improved their ratings for six straight months. A very impressive feat. The Fan however isn’t far behind and sits only three tenths of a point away from hitting the Top 5. They’ve also increased their numbers for the past four months. ESPN 103.3 on the other hand is in third place and down three tenths of a point from April’s book.

M-F 6a-7p

  • The Ticket = 10.4 (1st)
  • The Fan = 4.5 (6th)
  • ESPN 103.3 = 2.2 (tied for 17th)

*** A monster month for The Ticket who perform two times better than their competitors. During weekday prime programming, they are clearly clicking on all cylinders right now…..for The Fan, they’re up a point and a half from where they stood three months ago so that’s encouraging. Being in 6th is also very solid, and they’re only a half a point away from reaching the Top 5. That’s a ranking most sports talkers would be satisfied with…..ESPN 103.3 on the other hand remains consistent in the low 2’s and is widely considered the market’s third brand. One thing to take into account, The Ticket and 103.3 are both owned and operated by Cumulus Media, so the lower performance of 103.3 may not be a bad thing. It keeps the company’s top station (Ticket) in focus, and that is after all their bread winner.

M-F 5:30a-10a

  • The Ticket (The Musers) = 13.5 (1st)
  • The Fan (Shan and RJ) = 3.2 (tied for 7th)
  • ESPN 103.3 (Mike and Mike/Le Batard) = 3.0 (tied for 9th)

*** The Musers continue their reign as the market’s most dominant show on radio among males 25-54. They not only are destroying their local sports radio competitors, but all radio stations/shows in the Men 25-54 demo. To put it in perspective, their 13.5 share was 6 full points higher than 2nd place KZPS-FM Lone Star 92.5 Classic Rock which finished 2nd…..for The Fan, the good news is they’re up from where they were a few months ago, and they’ve climbed in front of ESPN 103.3. They were behind them a few months earlier. On the other hand, they’re still way behind The Ticket who has also grown their numbers….for ESPN 103.3 the story remains the same, a solid showing by Mike and Mike who are playing in the Top 10 and performing the best of any show on the radio station, but not in the conversation with The Musers who own mornings in Dallas.

M-F 10a-12p 

  • The Ticket (Norm Hitzges/Donovan Lewis) = 8.6 (2nd)
  • The Fan = 4.0 (G-Bag Nation) = 4.0 (7th)
  • ESPN 103.3 (Le Batard/1-hour of Dennis & Freido) = 1.0 (26th)

*** Norm and Donovan were just under a 9 share which is excellent and more than double points ahead of The Fan. Given that they were in weaker shape last year, this shows tremendous growth and they’ve got to feel ecstatic about the way they’ve turned the tide in their favor…for G-Bag Nation, the first two hours of their show finds them in the top 7. They broadcast five hours each day. Just a few months ago the show was under a 3 share so they have to feel encouraged by the progress even if they don’t feel great about being a distant second to The Ticket…..ESPN 103.3 on the other hand loses the momentum they have in mornings and drops two points. For whatever reason, the meters are moving away from the station during this window.

M-F 12p-3p

  • The Ticket (BaD Radio) = 9.3 (1st)
  • The Fan (G-Bag Nation) = 4.9 (6th)
  • ESPN 103.3 (Dennis & Freido) = 1.7 (20th)

*** Once again The Ticket delivers in big fashion. BaD Radio increases the station’s performance after Norm/Donovan which is impressive since those guys themselves are turning in a strong showing. They’re almost five points ahead of where The Fan is……for G-Bag Nation, they increase their performance by almost a full point between 10a-12p and 12p-3p so that’s certainly a positive. They’re also sitting in 6th place during these 3 hours and that’s nothing to be ashamed of……for Dennis & Freido, they improve as the show goes on, adding seven tenths of a point during this timeslot. They however sit in 20th overall and have a long ways to climb to reach the other two shows.

M-F 3p-7p

  • The Ticket (The Hardline) = 8.9 (1st)
  • The Fan (Ben and Skin) = 5.6 (4th)
  • ESPN 103.3 (Cowlishaw & Mosley) = 2.2 (19th)

*** The Hardline continues to surge in afternoons, leading the market with an impressive 8.9 share. Their challenge is to try and find a way to take that 13+ share from morning drive and convert some of those listeners into afternoon fans. None the less, 1st place is 1st place….for The Fan, Ben and Skin have a lot to feel good about. They’re nearly two and a half points higher than the station’s morning show, and inside the Top 5 which shows that they’re very much a legitimate threat. They’re the highest rated show on The Fan which should make them feel good too. Their challenge is to keep chipping away and hope for The Ticket to stumble……For ESPN 103.3, they remain a distant third, and judging by the past twelve months, they’re going to be consistently in the 2.0-2.5 range.

M-F 7p-12a

  • The Fan = 8.7 (1st)
  • The Ticket = 4.2 (5th)
  • ESPN 103.3 = 2.8 (14th)

*** Texas Rangers baseball has made an impact for The Fan during the evenings. It’s a big reason why the station jumps up three full points between afternoon drive and the night time. The Fan also invests more in local programming during the evenings than the other two brands. That said, The Ticket and ESPN 103.3 are both up. This is likely due to the Dallas Stars playoff run, and airing the NBA Playoffs on ESPN Radio.

As someone who’s programmed multiple stations, lived and died with the ratings, and has a lot of respect for Jeff Catlin at The Ticket and Gavin Spittle at The Fan, my only goal with this piece is to provide an accurate story. I can’t control the numbers, I don’t work for either company or station, and I have no favorites in the race. I know a lot of the talent in the market who do a great job, and they deserve to have a fair and accurate story told about their performance.

For the month of May, The Ticket is in full control. The meters love them right now, and all the other two brands can do is continue to push forward and try to chip away at their lead in the months ahead. Jeff Catlin and his team are doing an amazing job, and I’m sure Dan Bennett and the Cumulus brass are more than satisfied with the results.

What should be understood though is that The Fan is still very much in great shape. There’s only room at the top for one station, but in a city with a population of close to 6 million people, there’s plenty of room for two sports talkers to have success. ESPN 103.3 provides a third option and when the programming (Mike and Mike) meets the needs of the market, you can see a spike in the station’s performance.

There are other areas to measure each brand’s strengths. For The Ticket, they’re going to focus on Men 25-54 and look extremely well. This is their wheelhouse and one which they’re rewarded strongly by. The key to their success comes from listeners aged 45-54.

The Fan on the other hand skews younger and can take some solace from the fact that their Men 18-34 story remains strong. The station has won that battle for 16 months straight, and they’re rewarded most by Men 25-34. That may not be the target demo which most radio groups covet, but it gives them encouraging signs to build upon. They also have a higher cume than The Ticket M-SU 6a-Mid, finishing with 561,400 compared to 471,800.

Dallas sports radio fans will find different things to hang their hats on depending on which side of the fence they sit. But, since sports radio is largely judged by Men 25-54, the month of May belongs to The Ticket. They’ve turned in impressive over the air ratings, which on their own are enough to feel great about. They don’t need a murky digital story to help tell their story. When Nielsen starts including digital data for all brands, then we’ll report that part of the story. For now, this is where things stand for all involved.

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ESPN Beaver Dam to Carry University of Wisconsin Women’s Volleyball

“By adding UW Women’s Volleyball to our lineup of premier brands and teams, we ensure that fans across the state can experience every thrilling moment.”

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Logo for ESPN Beaver Dam and a photo of Wisconsin women's volleyball players
Photo Courtesy: University of Wisconsin Athletics

Good Karma Brands has announced that ESPN Beaver Dam will join 100.5 ESPN Madison and 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee as a broadcaster for all University of Wisconsin women’s volleyball games starting in the 2024-2025 season. This expansion will guarantee that fans all over Wisconsin get live broadcasts of one of the strongest volleyball teams in the country.

“We are excited to join the group of GKB stations to deliver all the action and excitement of UW Women’s Volleyball games to fans,” said Sheri Sackett, market manager for ESPN Beaver Dam in a release. “By adding UW Women’s Volleyball to our lineup of premier brands and teams, we ensure that fans across the state can experience every thrilling moment.”

The UW Women’s Volleyball team finished the 2023 season at No. 3 in the AVCA Poll after a strong performance in the NCAA Tournament that led them to the semifinals. The addition of ESPN Beaver Dam will greatly increase the team’s exposure and audience reach.

In addition to UW Women’s Volleyball, ESPN Beaver Dam is the home for the Milwaukee Brewers, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Green Bay Packers, the Wisconsin Badgers, and the Beaver Dam High School Golden Beavers.

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Reggie Miller: If TNT Loses NBA Broadcasting Rights, ‘We’re Going to Go Out With a Bang’

“First of all let me say this – this could be retirement for all of us at Turner network next year.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Reggie Miller
Courtesy: John Nowak, Warner Bros. Discovery

The NBA is reportedly formalizing media rights contracts with The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC), NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video as its new trio of partners. If Warner Bros. Discovery ends up losing broadcasting rights to the NBA, it would mark the first time that a Turner-owned network did not televise league games since the 1984-85 season on TBS. Earlier in the season, TNT Sports reached a multi-year renewal agreement with NBA Hall of Fame forward Reggie Miller to continue serving as one of its analysts on its NBA on TNT coverage.

Miller joined the company in 2005 following his retirement from the NBA after an 18-year career with the Indiana Pacers and has called over 650 national NBA regular season games and NBA Playoffs matchups, along with 14 NBA Conference Finals. Yet he could be looking at his final season as a part of NBA on TNT coverage should the company no longer broadcast NBA games.

While it has been reported that Inside the NBA studio analysts Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny “The Jet” Smith all have opt-out clauses in their contracts if the company no longer broadcasts the NBA, it is unknown if such a provision exists for Miller. Barkley has been a member of NBA on TNT coverage since 2000 and recently announced that next season will be his last on television no matter what happens. Dan Patrick asked Miller if he believed Barkley was genuine in his announcement following Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

“I don’t want to believe it,” Miller said on the Dan Patrick Show. “First of all let me say this – this could be retirement for all of us at Turner network next year.”

Within his retirement announcement, Barkley emphasized that no one should contact him for interviews and was done speaking on the matter. Over the last month, he had appeared on a variety of sports media programming and spoke candidly on the NBA media rights negotiations, his sentiments on how everything unfolded and the potential future of Inside the NBA. Patrick wanted to know if Miller himself had been informed about what is happening behind the scenes as it pertains to the future of the NBA on TNT.

“We are in the dark – we have no idea,” Miller said. “This is way above my pay grade. I’m hoping – I think our leadership is at the table from everything I’m hearing, again, which isn’t a lot, and I hope they’re having – two minutes left in the fourth [quarter] and they’re trying to pull out a win here. It would be nice.”

Throughout the negotiating process, there has been speculation regarding Barkley potentially joining another network if Warner Bros. Discovery lost rights to the NBA. As he revealed his retirement, he divulged that he had spoken with other networks but affirmed that he would never work elsewhere. Miller interpreted Barkley’s decision to reveal his future plans as a means of getting ahead of the story since his name has been circulating with several different possibilities. In fact, he has known Barkley for a long time and understands that he does things on his own accord.

“So if this is his last year – we’ve had conversations [where] I’m like, ‘Look dude, we’re going to go out with a bang,’” Miller said, “so whatever happens at our network – if we do get a piece of the pie and we’re one of the four horseman; or not, if this is our lame-duck year and this is my last year at Turner as well, we’re going to have fun and go out with a bang.”

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The Blitz 1170 in Tulsa to Cease Operations

“The company decided the sports format wasn’t working and they’re going to take the signal in another direction.”

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the blitz logo

After just under three years in the format, Griffin Media is pulling the plug on The Blitz 1170 in Tulsa.

Social media posts from the station’s local hosts reveal that The Blitz will be moving away from its sports format on Wednesday, June 26th.

“There’s some news from our part of the world. Griffin Media has made the decision to eliminate The Blitz 1170 and those of us working there after June 26,” wrote morning host Rick Couri. “The company decided the sports format wasn’t working and they’re going to take the signal in another direction.

“This will likely bring my 42 year career of being on the air in Tulsa to an end, I don’t see a lot of other options for several reasons. I will still be broadcasting Tulsa University and Union football and who knows what else might come along. Until then I want to say thank you to everyone who has listened along the way and those incredible people I’ve worked with. It’s been quite an adventure with many amazing opportunities and experiences to be forever grateful for.”

The station featured Couri in mornings, followed by The Dan Patrick Show and The Rich Eisen Show. Afternoon drive was helmed by Colby Daniels and Program Director Jeremie “Pop” Polin from 3-6 PM. Daniels shared a similar post on social media as Couri.

The Blitz 1170 will be changing formats in a couple weeks. While I’m very sad about this news, I’m more thankful for having this opportunity and establishing friendships that will continue beyond the airwaves. I’m proud of this entire team and can’t say enough positive things about everyone I had the privilege to work with. I appreciate all the listeners supporting the Blitz every day,” Daniels wrote. “Some followed me to this signal and others welcomed me to Tulsa radio with open arms. You all have a special place in my heart.

“I feel like I’m at a major crossroads in my broadcasting career and I don’t know what my next step will be. I know I have so much more to offer but will have to carefully weigh whatever options emerge. It’s rare in this business to be given the opportunity to finish out the last 2 weeks. Our final show will be June 26th so let’s have fun doing what we love until then.”

According to a report from RadioInsight, the station recently changed its call letters to KOTV-AM, to replicate the same branding used by the company’s TV outlet in the market.

Griffin Media has yet to announce plans for the station after flipping away from the sports format on June 26th.

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