Thursday, November 5, 2009

Round 2 : SportsHub proves that it has arrived

WEEI-AM, a.k.a. Sports Radio 850, was the first all-sports station in Boston in 1991 and has dominated all pretenders since then, first on 890(WBPS), then on 1510(WNBR/WWZN) and most recently on 890(WAMG).

But, finally, WEEI is facing a serious challenge as WBZ 98.5FM, a.k.a. 98-5 The SportsHub, is closing the gap between the two all-sports stations. In the just-released October ratings book, Sports Hub experienced a ratings surge to bring it within striking distance of WEEI after just two months on the air.

Overall, WEEI registered a 5.3 rating (up from 5.2 in September) finishing in 5th place while WBZ-FM was in 14th with a 3.6 (up from a 2.5) among all listeners 6 years old and up Monday-Sunday, from 6 a.m. to midnight from September 17 to October 14. According to Arbitron's spokesperson, in its target demo category of men 25-54, WEEI-AM was once again ranked first but WBZ-FM has jumped to 3rd place. Despite still trailing in the overall numbers, WBZ-FM's management probably didn't count on such a quick growth in such a short period of time when the station launched in mid-August. According to Arbitron's overall numbers, WBZ-FM's audience grew from 488,000 in September to 780,000 in October.

The latest Arbitron numbers show Boston listeners, have noticed the SportsHub on the dial which maybe not so good news for a number of non-sports formats on FM.

While WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan" still ranked solid #1 among men 25-54, not-limitted-to-sports "Toucher and Rich" moved from 8th to 7th. But the afternoon drive may be the real story of WBZ-FM's October surge - "Felger and Massarrotti" jumped from 10th to 4th while WEEI's "Big Show" was in 2nd.

All of which begs the question: Could WEEI be feeling the heat? Maybe. Maybe not. No matter how you look at it or which side you're on, WEEI is still the top dog in this fight with an extremely-branded name in this town. Bottom line - WEEI is not going away.

But what WBZ-FM has proven so far, and what has been known all along, is this : there's more than enough of a sports radio market in Boston for both of WEEI and WBZ-FM to exist in and fight over. In many ways, both sports radio products are very different and obviously appeal to different segments of a large sports and non-sports radio base. While WBZ-FM hasn't really marketed itself very heavily thru TV, print or billboards, these latest ratings are showing that listeners are definitely aware of the new sports talk brand out there.

BRW Notebook :

Hey, what you said? : Of course, no matter how you look at this story in the Herald, it seems like Imus and WTKK relationship has seen its better days. Although middayer Michael Graham was calling into Imus the other morning, it was more of a courtesy check-in than anything else.

This and that : Familiar voice is back on WTKK 96.9FM's airwaves. Former CNBC business reporter Ron Insana is providing four daily business updates on FM Talker. Insana used to have a syndicated weekend show which used to air on WTKK on Saturdays....Jeff Santos' brainchild "Revolution Boston" has expanded again on WWZN AM 1510 this week. The station has added syndicated progressive talkers Mike Malloy(9-12a), Norman Goldman(Midnight-3am) and Leslie Marshall(3am-5am) to its roster. Since early May, in addition to Santos' morning drive show(7am-10am), the station has been running Stephanie Miller(10am-12pm), Ed Schultz(12-3pm) and Thom Hartmann(3p-6pm). Santos signed a one-year time lease with WWZN in late April to run progressive talk radio format in the Boston market.


CMSBMatty said...

We had Mazz on our radio show here in Portland last Saturday, and one thing he mentioned at the end when asked him how much fun he was having with his radio, he echoed the statements you made earlier, that it's not about beating EEI, but providing a viable alternative, because the city is big enough for two sports stations. Of course, I am sure they would love to surpass EEI eventually. I will be very interested to see how things drop for EEI with Red Sox getting knocked out early.

Anonymous said...

I cannot stand listening to Felger and Mazz. Then again, sports talk is mundane in itself. Still think that the Sports Hub will fail.

Anonymous said...

I listen to d&c in the morning to get the little bit of sports that they cover, afternoons to evenings however,i am now listening 90% of the time to wbz fm, after listening to weei since they have been on the air. I got tired of the yelling back and forth on the big show with glen's mike always higher than everybody else's. The "winer line" is not funny at all, with the same 12 people calling with the same schtick for the last 3 years. I am great full to finally have an alternative.
Tanguay and zolak are great, zolak is actually excellent and has really improved in a short time. d.a. at night is outstanding and is the best show on the station.