Toronto Sports Media Radio Ratings Wrapup


Mike in Boston is off planet visiting, avoiding both the electronic & verbal darts hurled his way from weeks of stellar opinion from previous Seen and Heard episodes.

So, you are stuck with me today.

Here we go….

Let’s start once again with the disaster that is the Toronto Radio ratings game. As far as I can see, this is the only civilized place (Canada) where radio ratings are NOT fully available to ANYone who wants them, even at a price.

The media is so petrified that the truth may be seen by the public that they actually enforce penalties to those who leak the results! We could start with the flawed prehistoric diary version of asking people to record what they’ve listened to. Or we could discuss how lame the devices are that record what people are actually listening to. Beepers? What is this 1980? The final and worst nail to me is the refusal to release detailed ratings. Yes, yes, yes, yes I’ve tried to pay for them and I’ve been stonewalled.

The fact that cellphone penetration in this country is amongst the highest anywhere and yet these devices aren’t equipped to be used as listening behavioural recorders is stunning. Or, the fact that we all have connected mobile devices in our cars and that doesn’t activate something in the vehicle radio to record behaviour is quite amazing.

So, there you have it. That’s the behind the scenes crap.

Let’s add to that the puzzling secrecy around the recorders themselves and it’s a perfect sh!t storm. They don’t release who has them, how old they are, where they are (none of which is protected by privacy in aggregate) nor do they release how often the device holders are changed.

All in all let’s come to the final conclusion that the industry relies on a system they have created that is totally unreliable and unscientific. Every single executive I talk to says the same thing, “the system sucks but it’s the only one we have.” The truth is the system sucks but they own the system! They can demand change.

So, I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on the April ratings. Thank to Andy Dufresne for helping out this time!

A trusted radio guru has always told me that you can’t look at one “book” for much as you have to look at trends, however it is one book and one book only that I have right now.

Here are some highlights:

For reasons I can’t explain (not a backhanded compliment) the king of Toronto Sports radio in terms of radio ratings in the month of April is Jeff Blair. That doesn’t take into account audience size. Meaning a 6.0 at 9am isnt the same audience size as a 6.0 in the morning or afternoon drive. So The morning show may have (and it does) a lower # as a rating, but it’s based on a much bigger audience.

Blair’s #’s are OFF the charts. In the key demographic, Males 25-54 the one most import to advertisers Blair pulled a 9.7!!! That’s crazy. I mean really crazy. For comparison, Macko & Cauz featuring Gareth Wheeler pulled in, wait for it, 0.1 in the same demo.

In the less important demo’s Blair’s numbers were better!

Men 18-49 — he pulled a 10.6 (vs 0.4 at TSN)
Men 18-34 — he pulled a 14.1 (vs 0.6 at TSN)

Those my friends are CRAZY #’s.

What makes them harder to understand is there is no trend. Blair, if you recall the last time we spoke about ratings was after the Blue Jays run and Blair with Brunt’s number were really bad. Which made no sense to me at all. Special hat tip BTW to Ben Ennis who filled in for Blair for a part of April too.

So you know how high Blair’s numbers were here are Mccown’s:

Men 25-54 — Mccown pulled 7.3 ( vs Blair’s 9.7)
Men 18-49 — Mccown pulled a 7.7 (vs Blair’s 10.6)
Men 18-34 — Mccown pulled a 9.1 (vs Blair’s 14.1)

Bob’s numbers are good. They aren’t stellar Bob numbers but they are beyond respectable and they are very good. Again, Bob has a bigger total audience at that hour so you need to keep that in mind. However the Blair #’ are astounding.

The next conclusion is that the only show at TSN 1050 to have an audience to speak of is Overdrive. None of the other shows even show up. The 0.1 for Macko and Cauz are the numbers that shutdown stations let alone shows.

Here is Mccown vs. Overdrive

Men 25-54 — Mccown pulled 7.3 vs Overdrive’s 2.4
Men 18-49 — Mccown pulled a 7.7 vs Overdrive’s 3.3
Men 18-34 — Mccown pulled a 9.1 vs Overdrive’s 3.0

While those Overdrive #’s aren’t great they do show that’s its a legitimate show.

Next conclusion, mornings at both stations are bad. The Fan morning show has yet to achieve anywhere near the number insiders are telling me they were promised when this show was pitched. I am told that former PD Don Kollins was talking about double digit ratings and the show is not on par (April to April) what old shows used to do. If my research is right the last April this bad at the Fan was when Stellick and Landry were on the air!

At TSN? Crickets. I am apparently the only person listening to Naylor and Landsberg. The numbers for this show are not very good. But they are better than the Macko and Cauz #’s. Here are the numbers Blundell vs. N&L:

Men 25-54 — Blundell pulled 6.5 vs N&L’s 0.5
Men 18-49 — Blundell pulled a 6.3 vs N&L’s 0.4
Men 18-34 — Blundell pulled a 8.2 vs N&L’s 0.2

Andrew Walker is holding his own solo and is putting up relatively good numbers for the 1pm slot. Here are Walker vs. Richards:

Men 25-54 — Walker pulled 5.8 vs Richards’s 0.7
Men 18-49 — Walker pulled a 6.1 vs Richards’s 0.9
Men 18-34 — Walker pulled a 6.4 vs Richards’s 1.3

The noon shows continue to do what they to on both stations. I will admit I don’t have comparables for either show in recent April ratings so here you go, HC vs. LL:

Men 25-54 — HC pulled 4.7 vs LL 0.6
Men 18-49 — HC pulled a 5.7 vs LL 2.3
Men 18-34 — HC pulled a 6.8 vs LL 3.5

That 3.5 in the younger demo is TSN 1050’s best rating.

So what does it all mean?

Well, again, sh!tty system and only one book. However April is actually one of the most important books. September and April are the two that are considered biggest.

The morning shows are both disappointing. The Rogers execs have to be wondering why they made the move they did as it has yet to pay dividends. At TSN, while I am sure they are happier with the show and recognize it is a work in progress they can’t be happy with the #. Once again I will say that Naylor has to become more vocal and Landsberg more likeable and demonstrate that he is able to a team guy. This is not his show and so far they struggle together.

The mid morning show is a boon for Rogers. A total bust for TSN 1050. I’m curious to see what Blair’s numbers are this month. Traditionally April is a much bigger ratings month compared to May, May generally goes down. I believe this number more than the brutal ones in the fall. But that’s just me.

Leafs Lunch and hockey central are what they are in a time where hockey is irrelevant in this market.

Walker is owning Richards. Not a surprise.

Mccown over Overdrive is the most interesting battle. Mccown, the incumbent is winning. How overdrive performs without any hockey being played this summer will be the test. Overdrive will benefit in the fall from an improved Leafs.

So there you go.

I am happy to report them when I get them. Ratings aren’t easy to come by but here’s my take on one of the biggest months of the year.

Happy Saturday!


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