Covid Killed The Radio

Covid Killed The Radio thumbnail


Ultimately, a lockdown keeping people at home was more than enough to completely body slam the Toronto sports radio market. Despite the return of Toronto Blue Jays baseball and the short-lived Maple Leafs, um, playoff appearance, the fact is the vast majority of the audience (as based upon Numeris ratings) was at home and did not turn on their radios at all to listen to sports or sports talk.

Now, were people streaming? Probably. Or, I will say definetely. How many? How often? Sorry, that data is hard to come by. Before getting into that, lets look at the most recent book:

Station M25-54 M25-54   M18-34 M18-34
  % Share of Hrs. Tuned % Share of Hrs. Tuned   % Share of Hrs. Tuned % Share of Hrs. Tuned
  March 1- May 30 Nov. 30-Feb. 28   March 1- May 30 Nov. 30-Feb. 28
M-Fr. 6a-9a          
FAN 590 1.0 1.2   0.1
TSN 1050 1.1 1.0   0.1 0.2
M-Fr. 12p-1p          
FAN 590 5.2 4.4   0.1 0.5
TSN 1050 0.9 0.4   0.2 0.1
M-Fr. 1p-4p          
FAN 590 2.9 1.8   0.3 0.1
TSN 1050 1.0 0.7   0.5 0.1
M-Fr. 4p-7p          
FAN 590 2.1 2.0   0.2 0.3
TSN 1050 6.5 3.4   0.1 0.1

Thanks to David Bray for the rating breakdown as usual!

The grand conclusion, no one under 35 is listening to live sports radio talk or daytime games. Like, LITERALLY NO ONE.

The second conclusion, with the exception of the noon hour, no one is listening to the Fan at all and up until the afternoon drive, no one is tuning into TSN either.

Of course, the usual caveats. One book does not make a trend. And what would an article about ratings be without steamrolling 20x Numeris and just how stupid and outdated their system is.

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The question I guess over at Rogers is, did all the cuts they made on talent defeat the overall purpose of cost savings by eviscerating their total audience?

At TSN, I guess the question would be, given the consistency of the lineup, and the current ratings, are changes warranted.

Of course, all of this has a massive asterisk.

When (not if) things are back to normal and people are back at work will they return to the radio and old listening habits?

Has COVID furthered the habit of streaming on-demand to the point where other manufacturers are going to follow TESLA and no longer provide terrestrial radios? In other words, is it now all about streaming?

Living on the west coast I used to think I was the only idiot out there who would listen to old talk sports radio shows. Bit by bit, others have started to do the same. With Covid, streaming live on a device OR after the fact is currently the vehicle of choice.

Streaming provides me with the most choice and the ability to listen to what I want when I want. When the Fan morning show has an amazing segment, I can choose to listen to that, and only that. When the Jays signed Springer, I tuned into Blair. That is who I wanted to hear. When Blair talked only with his baseball central sidekick, I fast-forwarded. When the Leafs got bounced, I wanted to hear Over-Drive. When they talked about betting lines, I skipped or didn’t listen to that segment.

Clearly, others are doing the same.

What is quite incredible (or maybe not) is the audience size and loyalty to OverDrive. They are absolutely now in McCown land in terms of traditional rating land. If you want to say that COVID has resulted in a 50 % reduction in ratings, then the conclusion is even more pronounced as that would take them into the land of WOW ratings.

What is clear, is that as it relates to live, terrestrial radio the audience has shrunk dramatically. In the younger demographics, it’s gone. So the issue of this show vs. that show seems irrelevant given the quality (lack thereof) of data we have.

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Therefore, I don’t think this is the right post to talk about the quality of this show vs. that. I think a post where we ask you to rate all the talent and Mike and I do the same should happen after the fall book. I assume there will be some degree of changes between now and then, and until then there is no need. Put another way, I don’t think most time slots very much can compete with OD right now and who is on where and when seems somewhat irrelevant.

Summer is typically the radio graveyard. Having said that his summer could be very different. Will people be flocking to the cottage, or headed to offices when the lockdown fully ends? That could provide a slight bump, maybe an aberration.

Does Masai stay or go? That could have an effect. Where do the Raptors draft, what happens with Kyle, do they make a big trade, is there a splash in free agency? Those things coupled with more people in cars could lead to a bump for both stations.

It’s the same story for the Maple Leafs. Does the fact they have no first-round pick (and currently so few picks in total) lead to less interest in the draft? Do people in the GTA care about the expansion draft? With the Leafs tight to the cap, is free agency not a big deal this year? Do they make a trade of significance? All of those things could alter the typical trends of summer.

With the Blue Jays, it’s a little more basic. Do they stay in the hunt, are they players at the trade deadline, do they stay in Buffalo or come home, do they recognize how brutal the simulcast is and go to a standalone radio broadcast? These are all things that could impact the ratings, especially at the Fan.

For now, not much else to say on the topics of radio ratings.

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What, say you?

Interesting to see TNT and ESPN load up on free agents heading into their new NHL contracts. I still can’t believe they hired 99 to be a studio analyst.

I wonder if either network will try to grab any talent from Rogers or TSN, if they are smart, and they want to get hockey right they will especially on the technical side of the house.

I am quite surprised how little coverage the cheating pitcher’s story seems to be getting in Canada compared to the USA. Any idea why that may be?. Yes, some scribes have tweeted about here or there, just not A LOT of coverage out there vs. here in the USA.

Not as currently orchestrated, but my Canada does include the CFL. I’ve been pretty transparent on what I think they need to do, I will say this, they need to find a way to play. Three downs or four, USA players or Canadian, just get the games back on.

Literally everywhere I turn now there are ads or promotions for betting in sports. It’s like that awful follow-up to the original Back To The Future Movie where Biff is running around in the past with the Sports Almanac from the future. I will say this if it draws in interest and there is tax revenue associated with it that can be put to good use, I am for it.

I was able to chat with an old pal on the Podcast this week. He has been a lifer at ESPN living the dream that many of us aspired to cover sports for ESPN. I think you will really enjoy this episode:

Till next time…


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