Radio wars: Watters chips away at McCown's big lead
As dodgy as television ratings can be, radio ratings are even more suspect.
At least TV audiences are measured with electronic gadgets attached to television sets and have some credibility assuming you buy into the belief that a few thousand meters can tell you what millions are watching. But in radio, audiences are measured by selected listeners keeping personal diaries, the equivalent of writing this blog in the ground with a stick.
But, the BBM ratings are what makes the radio world go around, so even if they're wildly inacurrate, they still carry some weight. Just ask the guys who've lost their jobs after bad ratings books.
Nobody's losing any jobs in the Toronto sports radio market, but the winter ratings released yesterday indicate that 640 Toronto's Bill Watters is taking a serious run at prime-time king Bob McCown over on the FAN 590.
Watters scored a 3.5 share of adult males, which is less than half the 7.3 recorded by McCown's Prime Time Sports. But the gap is narrowing. Watters' audience has grown 9 per cent since last winter, while McCown's audience share dropped 18 per cent.
"We've gone from 20 per cent of their audience share to half in a very short time," said 640 program director Gord Harris.
While McCown's audience took a hit, The FAN's noon hockey show saw its audience share jump 60 per cent to 6.1. It apparently did so at the expense of 640's Leafs Lunch, which plummeted 31 per cent to 3.3.
"We're wider than Leafs Lunch," said FAN general manager Nelson Millman. "You can only complain about the Leafs not making the playoffs or talk about who Brian Burke is going to trade for so long."
Here's what the rest of ratings showed:
Morning show: 5.8 (Down from 6.0, a negligible drop)
Bullpen: 4.4 (Off 21 per cent, which may or may not say anything)
Director's Chair: 5.4 (Up 4 per cent, but not really comparable to the `08 lineup)
Game Plan: 4.3 (Down 17 per cent from Chuck Swirsky's audience as Armstrong and MacLean break in their show)
Evenings: 2.9 (A 39 per cent decrease, no doubt thanks to lame Raptors team)
Overall: 4.7 (An 8 per cent decrease, but still maintaining 6th place among adult males)
Evenings: 2.3 (Down 4 per cent as the Leafs continue to struggle)
FAN BIDS ADIEU TO ESPN
As of this week, the late-night and weekend programming at the FAN is coming from Fox and not from ESPN.
After more than a decade of airing ESPN radio offerings, the FAN decided that asking price was just too high.
"They were looking for a 150 per cent increase in rights fees and we didn't believe that in these economic times that was a prudent decision," said Millman. "We're monitoring closely to see if what they do fits our mandate."
So far, Millman said, audience reaction has been mixed.