Toronto Sports Radio Ratings Nuttiness


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 [email protected]#@!#@!. 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?

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