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Sports Radio Ratings Coast To Coast

Jason Barrett



The Nielsen gods were kind to sports radio stations this fall. Many of the format’s best programmers and personalities can now enjoy the holidays without feeling like they were punched in the gut right before taking a well deserved break.

Here’s what we learned about a number of the top stations and markets this fall. Enjoy!

  • In the big apple, WFAN and ESPN NY 98.7FM continue to perform in strong fashion. The Fan won bragging rights among Men 25-54 by finishing 1st M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid. Boomer and Carton and Mike Francesa each finished 1st, Joe and Evan were ranked 4th. Meanwhile at ESPN NY 98.7FM, a little bit of history was made. Each weekday show was rated in the Top 10. Michael Kay finished 7th. Mike and Mike were 9th, and Hahn and Humpty and Dan LeBatard both placed 10th. Congrats to Mark Chernoff and Justin Craig and each of their teams on the excellent news.
  • Moving to the windy city, Christmas came early for the staff at 670 The Score. The radio station capped off a strong year by finishing 1st with Men 25-54 M-SU 6a-Mid. Mully and Hanley were ranked 3rd in mornings, and Spiegel and Goff, and Boers and Bernstein finished 2nd in their respective timeslots. For local competitor ESPN 1000, they too had an impressive story to share. The station was 5th in both morning drive and M-SU 6a-Mid. Their big win came in afternoons, where Waddle and Silvy finished 1st, defeating The Score. 2017 figures to be even more interesting and competitive with the Cubs playing championship baseball, and longtime afternoon host Terry Boers exiting 670. Both Mitch Rosen and Adam Delevitt and their staffs should feel great about the way they closed out 2016.
  • A little further north, a round of drinks are in order for the crew at KFAN Minneapolis. The radio station finished 1st in the top three categories for the fall book, Men 25-54, Adults 25-54 and 6+. No station in the market, regardless of format, was stronger than KFAN during the past three months. As it pertains to sports radio brands, the Minneapolis sports radio station consistently delivers double digit ratings, making it one of the best rated sports stations in the entire country. An incredible job done by Chad Abbott and his team.
  • Heading west to the Bay Area, both KNBR and 95.7 The Game received positive news heading into the holidays. KNBR closed out the fall book finishing 1st overall with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p. The station delivered just under a 10 share in October and November, but experienced a two and a half point dip in the month of December, which still wasn’t enough to keep it out of the top spot in the market. KNBR held a half point lead over the 2nd highest rated station (KSOL) in December, and were two to four points higher than the next best rated brand in October and November. For The Game, the addition of the Golden State Warriors, combined with a strong Oakland Raiders season continued to fuel their progress. The station was tied for 9th M-F 6a-7p, but finished 2nd at night, which speaks to the power of airing Warriors games. The morning show with Joe, Lo and Dibs produced the best overall finish of the station’s key weekday programs, coming in 8th. Congrats to Lee Hammer and Don Kollins on the positive signs for their brands.
  • Next, we ship up to Boston, where both WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub are engaged in a fierce competition to be number one. Without question, this was the hottest sports radio market in America in 2016. The fall book concluded with The Hub finishing 1st with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid. WEEI was 2nd. However, Kirk and Callahan have closed the gap on Toucher and Rich and were in a dead heat in the December book. To illustrate how powerful the interest is during mornings in Boston, 1 out of 6 male listeners, ages 25-54, listens to sports talk. The Hub prevailed in middays and afternoons, with Felger and Massarotti earning bragging rights as the station’s top rated show. With WEEI recently adding Rich Keefe alongside Dale & Holley it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts the afternoon battle in future months. Both Mike Thomas, and new WEEI PD Joe Zarbano have to be very pleased with the current state of their brands, yet they can’t relax and enjoy the moment because one quarter hour could be the difference between finishing 1st or 2nd in the next book. None the less, they deserve a ton of credit for the way their brands performed in 2016.
  • Sliding down to the city of brotherly love, the strong battle between 97.5 The Fanatic and SportsRadio 94WIP continues. The Fanatic cruised to victory in afternoon drive, led by Mike Missanelli’s 3rd place finish. WIP came in 6th, although two of their three months in PM drive did not include the station’s new afternoon team of Chris Carlin and Ike Reese. In mornings, Angelo Cataldi led the way, recording a 2nd place finish for WIP. The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano was also strong, registering a 5th place finish. Overall M-F 6a-7p WIP was 3rd, The Fanatic 5th. Both Spike Eskin and Matt Nahigian have reason to feel good about their brands heading into the holidays.
  • From the home of the Eagles, we shift to Dallas, Texas where the success of the Cowboys fueled the success of both local sports stations in the December book. Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket remained atop the ratings, finishing 1st M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid with Men 25-54. All three of the station’s weekday shows recorded 1st place finishes, led by The Musers who were once again in double digits. George Dunham, Craig Miller and Gordon Keith wrapped up 2016 by delivering double digit shares in 10 of 12 books. For 105.3 The Fan, they too had reason to be optimistic. Over the past two years the station has grown from 12th to 6th with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p. They’ve also become the brand of preference for Men 18-34. In December, The Fan received 7th place finishes from G-Bag Nation, and Shan and RJ, and Ben and Skin were slightly behind in 8th. A tip of the cap to Jeff Catlin, Gavin Spittle and both staffs for the great work they’ve done this year.
  • While a winning football team may be helpful in Dallas, the lack of one in St. Louis couldn’t slow down 101 ESPN. The station continued to dominate in the ratings, finishing 3rd in December with Men 25-54, and wrapping up the entire year as the 3rd highest rated station in the market. Each of the station’s four key weekday shows closed out the year ranked third in their respective dayparts. The cherry on top of the sundae for 101, was earning bragging rights as the top rated spoken word station in the market among Men and Persons 25-54 for 2016. Congrats to Hoss Neupert and his entire staff on their success.
  • We close things out in Columbus, where 97.1 The Fan continues to place a stranglehold on the rest of the market. The station finished the month of December in 1st with Men 25-54, with an astounding 13 share. They were also 3rd in the 12+ and Adults 25-54 categories. The Fan’s next closest competitor with Men 25-54 was WCOL who were three points behind. A great job by Jay Taylor and his crew.

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.



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.



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”



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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