Toronto Sports Radio Ratings Nuttiness

May 8th, 2015 | by torontosportsmedia
Toronto Sports Radio Ratings Nuttiness
sports and toronto


The radio ratings system used to rely on selected “raters” to keep a manual journal of the radio stations they were listening to at given times of the day in order to arrive at the ratings.

That was old and antiquated.

In the “digital age things were supposed to improve.

We’ve recently seen Rogers question the accuracy of the TV ratings system.

We are once again reminded that the radio ratings system is total crap.

The problem is so easy to fix, yet the industry, the actual broadcasters refuse. Instead of publicly publishing the ratings, they are privacy protected for the industry to manipulate however they want, to serve whatever argument they are trying to make. Numeris releases a totally useless subset, tightly guarding the whole set.

In the AM Canadian sports radio world the key demographic, sorry ladies, is males 25-54. That’s undisputed. Over the years, as others have tried to unseat The Fan 590 they have tried to use the males 18-49 demographic without much success. Everyone knows and accepts that the key demographic is males 25-54.

I spoke with several ad buyers in the GTA today and they say when they look at purchasing time in the sports genre all they care about is males. “No one in our industry looks at any other demo when it comes to sports radio” one exec told me.

Yet, here was David Shoalts’s report this morning in the Globe and Mail on the “success” of the Dean Blundell show:

“The Fan’s morning show on March 2, drew an average share of 3.3 per cent of listeners between ages 25 to 54 in April. That was a sizeable jump from 2.3 per cent in March.”

Yeah, in the totally irrelevant total listeners 25-54!

It gets even more strange:

A broadcast-industry source provided radio ratings from Numeris that showed Brady and Walker’s decline started in April, 2014, and they were never able to arrest the slide. That April, Brady and Walker had a 4.8 share of adults 25 to 54 in the morning slot; by February, 2015, that share was down to 2.4.

Again, those numbers, if they are accurate, are in a demo that not one single person cares about. Why would a paper as reputable as the Globe even report those numbers? Only a tried and true Blundell supporter would want to cut the numbers that way.

Down the dial at we get, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story:

Looking at that M25-54 demo, Blundell & Co. rose to 6.4 in April. That’s great when compared to the competition on TSN Radio 1050, but not-so-great when compared to how Brady and Walker fared in that same time slot last April. In April 2014, Brady and Walker got a 9.8. Blundell lost a 3.4 share and Rogers executives expected the opposite.

That my friends is at least an accurate and accepted look at the ratings.

It’s funny, Shoalts states that “Blundell also increased his share of what is considered The Fan’s target audience, males ages 18 to 49.

The Fan’s target audience is 18-49??????

Since when?

When 640 or 1050 used to nip at McCown’s heals in that younger demo, the battle cry from the Fan used to be that they didn’t really focus on the younger demo and that they were focused on the key males 25-54.

The puzzling piece from Shoalts continues: “Prime Time drew a 4.4 share of adults 25 to 54 in April, up from 3.6 in March. McCown’s competition at 1050, TSN Drive with Dave Naylor, posted a 1.4 share in April, up slightly from 1.3 in March.

I am completely dumbfounded why Shoalts or anyone at the Fan would want that number out there. PTS, according to my sources in the males 25-54 demo pulled in a very respectable 7.9 share! Showing McCown at 4.4 is completely misleading. I looked back at my old reports and in this same book back in 2012 PTS pulled a 2.5 in the younger demo and a 10.0 in the older one.

So why would Shoalts write what he wrote today? Where would he get the breakdown the way he wrote it? Shoalts is a good writer who knows his stuff. Was this an attempt to try to balance out his recent reports of how challenged Rogers tv ratings have been? Perhaps someone at Rogers called in a favor. We will never now.

Back in the day when I used to make a concerted effort to get the ratings I used to get them from three sources; one from the Rogers side, one from either TSN or 640 and then one independent. The numbers NEVER matched up. EVER.

We all know that McCown likes to quote, I believe Paul Beeston on the “any good accountant can make chicken salad out of chicken !@#@!#@!. Because the numbers are not released in full to the public, they leak out like they did in completely unverifiable ways. It’s crap.

I recently reached out to Numeris and tried to pay for the ratings as any member does. I was denied. The industry doesn’t want the ratings to get out in a meaningful way. It’s much better for the stations to cut, paste and calculate the numbers for their own benefit and the public to be completely mislead.

As for the ratings themselves what do they mean?

I think Mike has the right idea in his column. Blundell improved on his first month ratings. That leaves him below where Brady and Walker were and very far from what rumor on the street is that Rogers were hoping Blundell would get somewhere in the the 10-12 share range.

Blundell had a brutal first month and a respectable second month. He has one more month to complete the third month of the “spring book”. If he holds in the 6 range he should be ok. If he drops back down as we head into the dead of summer all bets are off.

At the same time, I’d love to know what Brady and Walker have to say about the Shoalts column.

What this all says to me is that TSN continues to be asleep at the wheel.

According to Mike, the TSN morning show is now down to a 1.1 rating. More people are snooping in on my discussion with my kids on the ride to school in the morning then are listening at a 1.1 rating. The window to take mornings and perhaps change the listening habits for the rest of the day remains open while Blundell is on at the fan. Is anyone at TSN paying any attention????? Does anyone care?


  1. Ronnie says:

    Greg Brady is one of the worst radio guys ever

  2. mario says:

    Thanks TSM for trying to figure out this mess of a system they try to put together is really out of the stone age, I agree though what is Bell (1050) doing they do not seem to care they just sit back and do nothing to improve and the Fan keeps throwing darts to see what sticks

  3. Radio’s never ending fetish for the under 30 demo has always baffled me, male or female, especially since the early 2000’s.

    The core question is who has the money, and in the Toronto GTA market, with high youth unemployment, high student loans, scary rents, $600k+ starter homes, it’s very few people under 35, male or female.

    There might be a lot of them, but how much free cash do they really have?? And how connected to regular radio are they anyway? Aren’t they saving for a down payment, paying off that student loan, having babies and listening to podcasts?

    I’m at the top end of the demo, but my kids are raised, mortgage is low, no student loans and I’ve learned my credit card lessons decades ago. The younger demo may have been relevant 20 years ago, not sure in 2015…

  4. rob j says:

    I miss the era when Zelkovich would publish the ratings and everyone knew exactly what was going on

  5. rob j says:

    I never hear any controversy, or actual ratings, regarding sports talk stations in the US

  6. Sam says:

    Why are we entitled to see any of the data?

    If you look at the broader picture of measurement including Netflix, iTunes etc. its quite clear that listenership/viewership data is highly valuable proprietary information. Particularly as in the case of Netflix where it is extremely precise. Look no further than the lengths to which Netflix goes to protect their data.

    Taking a quick look at the Numeris site its really to me just a cost sharing arrangement amongst interested parties. What would be really interesting to know is, for instance, what is the data privacy approach to the data? Which of the members get to see all of it? Would the TV people get to see the Radio side of things?

    TSM/MIB, if you are short of people to consider an interview with, might I suggest someone from Numeris? 🙂

  7. mike (in boston) says:

    hey @Numeris: what is the total number of PPMs assigned to males 25-54 in the GTA? I’ll wait for your reply.

  8. @sam…

    You’re exactly right, private money is used to poll, create and collate, and sold to other private money, we have no more right to demand it than me calling ESPN and asking for subscriber numbers.

    My bigger question is how much does it matter? Every day, more ears go to podcasts and apps, data gets cheaper, wifi more common and phones more powerful, I can sit in my Nissan in hamilton and listen to a Rogers station in Halifax or ESPN in Bristol, or the BBC with the same ease as 1050.

  9. Not that Chris says:

    “I never hear any controversy, or actual ratings, regarding sports talk stations in the US”

    @rob j you don’t hear controversy about radio ratings in the US, because they aren’t being protected like state secrets. Every quarter, in every market, the ratings book is released, and if you have any interest in finding them, you generally can.

  10. Daniel says:

    Interesting. I don’t listen to morning radio much, but what I’ve heard of Blundell seems OK. Guess the jury’s very much still out on it.

    Just a random thought – rather than giving Tim & Sid a two hour TV show (seems very long for a TV show) and dropping them from radio all together (where they seemed to have a pretty devoted following) … wouldn’t it have made some sense to find a middle ground? Maybe an hour long TV show, plus an hour long radio show? I’d rather hear Tim & Sid at noon than hockey central, for example.

    Still think that was a huge mistake to remove them from the Fan all together. They weren’t for everyone, but they had a real hardcore following on there it seemed.

  11. yaz says:


    Shoalts: ‘A broadcast-industry source provided radio ratings from Numeris that showed Brady and Walker’s decline started in April, 2014, and they were never able to arrest the slide. That April, Brady and Walker had a 4.8 share of adults 25 to 54 in the morning slot’

    So, Brady & Walker were in SUCH a decline that Brady Tweeted in JUNE of 2014: ‘A sincere thank you to ALL listeners of @BradyAndWalker – the show in spring had HIGHEST ratings In Fan590 morning show history.’ But Shoalts ‘source’ states that in the months leading up to that Tweet, Brady & Walker were on the way out??

    I listened the day Brady announced those ratings – that was no false claim, there was honest exuberance. Sure, ratings numbers can be up for debate but Brady wouldn’t be that far at the other end of the spectrum. Blundell wasn’t brought in because Brady & Walker were sliding, he was brought in because of his even better historic ratings and 10+ year run on another station and, most of all, he just happened to be available. If Blundell wasn’t available at that time, Brady and Walker would still be sleep deprived and still be thriving in the morning slot.

    Howard Stern has mentioned several times that he knew he was #1 the first day he broadcast in Canada ( can’t remember the city) because here they used a radar that points at cars from an overpass and gets actual ratings. Was that complete BS? Do advertisers compile their own ratings in-house given how much money is at stake?

    If ratings are not available to the public then it isn’t just the radio stations keeping it so – it is the advertisers as well. And correct – in the digital age, ratings should be 100% objective. It is only a matter of time.

  12. sinnacle says:

    Let’s start from the top is the rating system be it PPM or Diary perfect? Of course not

    With that out of the way the rating system is not here so media geeks (like myself) can write/read blog post about Dean Blundell. Make no mistake the rating system is designed for advertising agencies and marketers. Radio and TV has proven over the test of time that buying x amount of ratings equals a certain about of reach which lifts brand awareness and hopefully in the end lifts sales. That is why the system is in place and most importantly why change is very slow since broadcasters don’t want to change the currency they sell airtime on.

    For all the exact data digital advertising can provided the moral of that story is the most reach you can get in an online campaign is 20-25% of the market so that is the down side to that.

    Also the PPM sample size M25-54 in Toronto is 287 people

  13. lb71 says:

    “Shoalts is a good writer who knows his stuff.” A few years back Shoalts had “outed” the @brianburke twitter user as an imposter! Someone was tweeting in Burke’s name. The horror! Even though the twitter handle specifically said “this is a parody” and provided a link to the “imposter’s” personal website. None of that was provided in Shoalts’ article. So either he is not that good of a writer or has his own (or someone else’s) agenda.

  14. Jeff says:

    David Shoalts was also the reporter who thought that DownGoesBrown’s very obvious Brian Burke Twitter feed was real and also went to air with a story about a very obvious joke regarding Ice Edge/Man U. Perhaps he simply doesn’t understand how ratings work, wouldn’t be the first time he messed up something. I don’t think he’s ‘bias’, moreso not a trained media writer who doesn’t really understand how it works.

  15. Mike S says:

    I like the fact that there is still at least one newspaper that occasionally writes about sports media…………..but if Shoalts can’t focus on the most relevant demographic for sports maybe he should go back to writing about the Phoenix Coyotes

    Having said that, I did have a chuckle when Shoalts posted a link to his column on Twitter and said this: “Please alert Conflict Constable Cox I have a good news story on Rogers”

  16. Too Much says:

    Please stop confusing share and ratings. Every stat quoted is share. Advertising agencies don’t give a flying fadoo about share. They care about ratings. Ratings are the number of people listening in an average minute divided by the total population of whatever demographic you are looking at. So a 1 rating means 1% of that demo would hear an ad if you ran one in that time period. Share is pointless if total listening is down – a 5 share of nothing is still nothing. Likewise your share could go down but if overall listening to radio is up, that’s okay because it likely means your ratings/the average number of people listening to you is stable or maybe even up. Share is pride/programming; ratings are the money number.

  17. Claire A Fye says:

    @Too Much Everything you said is true, but it’s not complete. Share does indicate to a station if what they’re doing at any particular time is successful or trending the right way. Or the wrong way for that matter. The rate card (provided stations are sticking to it) reflects the different day parts and they’re skewed towards available audience. Mornings are biggest so a large share in the morning is worth a lot more than a large share at night. The advertising agencies are looking for cost per ratings point. They generally have a gross point number they’re looking for and buy those points from the various sources available. So Too Much, you’re right, but it’s more than just bulk numbers agencies look at; they also look at rates.

  18. Neil says:

    Andrew Walker is annoying, The fan needs Rid themselves of this clown obviously doesn’t know what embarrassing means, he uses the at every opportunity possible. I also find when it comes to the topic of Race he dropped the ball offers no respectable enlightening opinion, it’s almost as though he shrugs it off like nothing. Cleary uses his radio voice to fool people.

  19. Darren K Johnston says:

    Well, another day of no PTS for me, I tuned in at the start to see Grange sitting in the co-host chair and hear McCown say that Reid will be joining him in the 5-7 hours. The long and very short of it means once again, no PTS. Why oh friggin why do Bob & Ryan Walsh insist on continuing to ruin this show by having KEN REID on as a co-host? Please, someone, anyone, explain this to me, there has to be a reason we (as listeners/viewers) aren’t seeing.

  20. (Another) Andrew says:

    I’m really enjoying TSN’s increased coverage of the IIHF World Ice Hockey Championships. Rod Black, Dave Reid, Gord Miller, Ray Ferraro and the rest of them have done a solid jump without the need for all the bells and whistles nonsense. Sometimes less is more.

    It just occurred to me that in past years the CBC always talked a little bit about the Canadian team’s progress during their playoff coverage even though it was on TSN. This year I haven’t heard any mention of it on TV or on The FAN. I don’t watch much from the new intermission shows and have only listened to the FAN sporadically this week so I could’ve easily missed it but I’m hoping this is not another Rogers corporate ‘blackout’ like during the World juniors earlier this year.

  21. Alex says:

    I was moderately surprised that PTS started with the TFC / #FhRITP story. I was not surprised naylor started with the Tom Brady story.

    I can only imaging how a “bro” show like Tim and Sid would have discussed it. Prob with horms and the panic button.

  22. (Another) Andrew says:

    …”solid job” not “solid jump” (not sure where I got that from!)

  23. Neil says:

    Mike Wilner just got absolutely taken to school by a caller all the way from San Fran. The caller took exception to Mike’s arrogance and Mike always trying to intimidate callers that disagree with his homeristic viewpoint. The Caller sternly reminded Mike that the show is for the fans. Brady and Walker have a segment on their program dedicated to kissing Wilner’s ass called Wilner’s worst calls, I bet a million bucks they don’t play the call that call as it will make Mike look like an idiot and exposes him for the so called expert that he is. Jays talk needs Shi Dhividi

  24. MattK says:

    I’m guessing Shi Dhividi would have to take a paycut to do Mike Wilners job, in the very least it isn’t a step forward for him. And there are plenty of idiots who call in just last night another caller wanting to trade Bautista and another complaining but not complaining about Syndergaard/Dickey, so I have no problem with Wilner being a little curt with the callers.

    Tim and Sid probably would have brought Donovan Bennent in and talk about the FhRITP, they do play the role of bros but they are way more socially aware than Andrew Walker.

  25. rob j says:

    I am the only one confused by the FHRITP reporting? No one shouted anything into her mic, he said it softly to the guy being interviewed, he’s not the one fired from Hydro, and the Sun has a big arrow pointing to someone who’s not Simoes. Isn’t simoes the one laughing about it and saying his mom would laugh about it? The whole thing started with ‘Hydro firing guy who yelled it at a reporter’ but that never came close to happening. He didn’t say it at all. Grrrr

  26. Drumanchor says:

    Slight topic change and apologies for piling on something that has been touched upon here many times.

    Ken Ried.

    I don’t listen to PTS as much as I used to, so when I hear Reid on, I always assume he is just filling in for whomever. I’m now starting to get the impression that this is not someone just walking down the hall to help out PTS because the regular co-host is unavailable. He is a full time employee.


    He was at his worst last night – just my opinion – in how he went on and on and on about, of all places on the planet, Oakville. It’s not just his east coast accent with his down-home delivery trying to be witty and funny like he is auditioning for This Hour has 22 Minutes. It’s that he is NOT funny at all. Couple that with said accent when he’s trying to be serious about something, and it is essentially unlistenable for me.

    Wondering if management is able to track ratings when Brunt is co-host as to when Reid is co-host. I can only assume they drop mightily when Ken is on.

    And it used to be such a great show.

  27. Curt says:

    @rob j: Are you talking about the guy in yellow who said, “You’re lucky there’s not a ****ing vibrator here!” Is that the guy you’re defending?

    Maybe he wasn’t the guy who said “FHRITP” but he was one of many cheerleaders and his words were just as offensive.

  28. Antonio says:

    I thought the wanker in the TFC shirt (had sunglasses on for part of the interview) should be in shit too. Can’t these idiots see the camera pointing at them – and yet they still try to be funny/crude?

    I’m pretty sure buddy who got canned by Ont Hydro rec’d a nice cheque to go away.

  29. rob j says:

    Not defending anyone! Just looking at it from an accuracy in reporting angle. The guy who actually said it became a ghost. The story is more nuanced than ‘A guy shouted the awful sentence at a reporter’. Maybe too much for the media to handle. The 2 poor saps in trouble didn’t do-say anything till approached by the reporter. They should have said no comment

  30. Curt says:

    “Poor saps”? Really? Well, don’t worry. I’m sure all the guy has to do is call his frat buddies and he’ll have his next job lined up – probably at the PMO.

  31. Roger says:

    They aren’t poor saps at all. They’re a bunch of immature douchebags who in all likelihood live in their mom’s basement with their cooking and laundry done for them (despite the fact that they are making $100K plus). The fact that people are defending any one of the imbeciles involved is mind boggling. They are idiots across all forms of social media using the argument of “Well, he was on personal time not company time”. If this your perspective, you are likely destined to a lifetime of menial, repetitive, low end jobs in a constant battle against “The Man” . Give me an F’in break!!! Sure he wasn’t on company time, but this idiot has co-workers, customers, suppliers, etc. in his capacity as an Ont Hydro employee who just watched that video and the crap he was saying on there. You’re telling me you would want this guy on your payroll representing your organization @Robj? C’mon man get with it!!! The reason the guy who actually said it isn’t getting any heat is because he managed to get away.

  32. There sees to be some confusion about freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom from consequence…

    Feel free to walk into any MMA training gym and scream what a bunch of butt fucking fags they are, go ahead and exercise your freedom of speech, your freedom of expression…Or you can be a laughing douche, egging on what could be classed as a crime, go ahead and exercise your freedom of speech, your freedom of expression…

    Freedom of speech and Freedom of expression may be protected in the Charter, freedom from consequence is not. He acted like a sexist dick that embarrassed himself and his publicly funded employer, every act can have consequences…

  33. Jeff says:


    SO perfectly worded, couldn’t have said it better. Anyone is allowed to say whatever they like, there always will be, be it positive or negative, consequences to said words.

  34. Doug says:

    While a good bulk of you people spend your time worrying about everyone else and their actions and/or speaking, I just try to live my life. Who cares about brutal assumptions like you made Roger in the above post. That to me is no more idiotic then those then those guys for doing what they did. At the same time I think these guys at BMO field are/were very immature in what they did, but at the end of the day who cares. We are not that hard socially on people who do much, much, MUCH worse ‘crimes’ then what these guys did. Really in the big scheme of things, what they guys did is a non-factor in life and a nothing situation. Worse talk is said by people playing sports against one another or probably by people playing video games against one another.

  35. Curt says:

    Yeah, who cares, eh? Let these idiots encourage rape culture. It’s no big deal.
    Go on and live your life, Doug. I hope you don’t have a daughter.

  36. Chris Kontos (@kontos9in11) says:

    Wow Doug, quite the insight there.

  37. Jamally says:

    I will always remember this era of PTS as the era of Ken Reid – the most annoying, unfunny, untalented, personality in modern radio/TV history in Toronto.

  38. Chris Kontos (@kontos9in11) says:

    So agree Jamally, and don’t tell me that people from that show/station don’t read the comments/complaints from everywhere on the web including this site. Why do they insist on continuing to put him on there?

  39. yaz says:

    What I don’t get is almost every reporter and many major news outlet perpetuating and continuing to promote the campaign they rail against by including the hashtag #FHR… in their Tweets and Web postings. Shows you how much news and web-surfing I do – I had never heard of the #FHR… fad until I saw the clip of the City News woman confronting the Toronto FC guys.

  40. Warren says:

    Doug – you’re right in part.

    There’s a ton of bad behaviour in social media and much of it worse than what we saw recently with the TFC guys.

    But that doesn’t mean you’d defend them. It’s still despicable and shouldn’t be tolerated.

    What’s really noteworthy in this case is that the yellers ceased to be anonymous. People like yaz and me who hadn’t heard of this before, heard about it. The TFC guys embarrassed their employers. TFC is embarrassed because everyone now sees the behaviour of their houligan fans.

    Bravo to the City news woman who shone the light.

  41. Sperk says:

    I think Bob keeps Ken Reid around because Reid as always deferential to Bob and never challenges any of his points. If Bob challenges any of Reid’s arguments Ken quickly backs down. I also think Reid makes Bob look good despite not really following sports closely anymore Bob’s knowledge far outweighs anything Reid has. I think Reid’s incompetence means Bob doesn’t have to work as hard and Bob likes it that way

  42. Mike S says:

    Jeff Marek has a fair amount of hockey knowledge……….but sometimes he goes overboard when trying to be hip………..on the noon 590 hockey show today he called veteran sports journalist Scott Morrison “Sco-Mo” more than once

  43. Steven Goetz says:

    I like Ken Reid on PTS, and to say a guy’s opinion “even when he’s being serious” isn’t valid because of his accent isn’t right.

  44. rob j says:

    Wilner’s twitter feed is the craziest night after night. Idiotic questions, dumb arguements, disdainful comebacks, cherrypicking stats, frustration, snark, outright lies…it’s performance art at its stupidest

  45. Neil says:


    Wilners and idiot. He constantly contradicts himself to provoke argument
    It’s how he keeps his Job. Pissing people of with no objective viewpoint of this team gets them to call. idiots attract a lot of attention, almost like a heel in WWE. I guess the thing that gets to me is, people actually drink the cool aid that Wilner serves. At times I wonder who the real idiots are, is it the one’s that are telling him he has a great show is and that he does great work? or Wilner himself?, Maybe Wilner should actually get some credit here cause he plays the game really well and leads the cool aid drinking sheep to the slaughter an’t blame a sales guy that makes a lot of sales and gets people to listen.

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