Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition


by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail


Let's try this again … we had some server issues and this post from January 1 was lost along with the comments. I have recreated most of the content and added some Low Hanging Fruit as a reward for those of you reading this twice.


Welcome to 2017 sports media watchers. Quick post this morning to keep the content fresh for you. Jonah and I are working on a number of changes here at TSM for the coming year which we plan to discuss with you in the weeks to come. If you have ideas for what you'd like to see more and less of feel free to start that conversation in the comments.


Topic: The NHL's Olympic Strategy


One of the main talking points in 2016 was whether the NHL would continue to participate in the Olympics in 2018 and beyond. This will soon be resolved as news broke that the league is drafting up two different scheduled for the 2017-18 season. Bill Daly puts the NHL's position thusly:


“As the commissioner (Gary Bettman) alluded to in the past, that’s not the only issue, there has to be a compelling reason for us to go to the Olympics at this point. As I stand here, we’re still searching for that reason.” 


Several writers have criticized the NHL for being out of touch with how the rest of the world views its product. Here is Barry Svrluga at the Washington Post:


"There are certain sports that need the Olympics. The World Figure Skating Championships are just that and no more. Did you realize they’re coming up in March in Helsinki? No? But by this point next year, you might recognize some of the American hopefuls as the field takes shape for Olympic gold in PyeongChang. Hockey, like so many other sports, can fall in on its own sense of self-importance […] Get sucked into that world, and it’s easy to forget how few countries play hockey, how few markets are obsessed with it, how few people actually see it. The Olympics offer that exposure — surely for an individual player but also for an entire sport. The World Cup? Canada noticed, for sure. The Olympics? Everyone notices."


If you have ever lived in the US this point is obvious. The NHL has a low national profile that reaches its peak if an interesting American team is in playing in the Cup finals. This is akin to the way NASCAR has tons of events all year but only registers nationally for the Daytona 500. During the Winter Olympics hockey takes centre stage in the American consciousness for a while. It's a high profile team sport with which the USA has a strong historical connection. 


So there is a reason to go to South Korea, even if Gary Bettman doesn't see it: it keeps your sport in the mind of an audience that needs reminding that your sport exists year round and not just every 4 years.


Further, as Michael Traikos writes in the National Post, there is another group of people who the NHL might be interested in courting. Approximately 39 million Chinese people tuned in to watch the NBA all-star game. That's more than the entire population of Canada. With the 2022 Winter Games slated for Beijing the NHL must acknowledge that 2018 would be a key piece in getting Chinese sports fans excited about hosting the world's best hockey players.  


All of this is to say that the NHL is speaking falsely when they say they have yet to find a reason to go to the Olympics. A more accurate statement would be "we see all the compelling reasons but don't know how to make money off that in the short term, and so are looking for someone to help us defray the costs." Fair enough, but let's be honest about it.


Olympics vs WJC vs WCOH


Smart people will spend the next few months sorting all this out and I expect the NHL will be at the next two winter Olympics, possibly with some financial assistance from other groups. The main fly in this ointment is that the NHL threw down a silly gauntlet by hosting the World Cup O' Hockey in Toronto this year. This gave them yet another hill on which they can claim to want to die, as they negotiate with the IOC. The reason this won't get them very much is the following:



Simply put: the WCOH is a poor substitute for Olympic hockey and everyone knows it. 


My thoughts on this were prompted by listening to trooper FAN590 afternoon host Andrew Walker, who took one for the team by working steadily through the holidays. Some day last week he challenged his listeners to explain why the IIHF World Junior Championships (on TSN) is a big time event while the WCOH (on Sportsnet) is not. As he pointed out, both are very much "made-for-TV" events at this point in time, featuring highly skilled players, some of whom are representing their countries. So why is one derided while the other is adored? 


This is a good question, and good for Andrew for having the courage to ask it (despite the obvious invitation for people to point out that his employer has a vested interest in downplaying the significance of the WJC). The reason this is a good question is that the answer is not obvious. 


I find it easier to ask the question starting from the opposite direction: why is Olympic hockey exciting? 


To me there are three variables that come together with Olympic hockey 


1) National pride 

2) Best players 

3) Meaningful games 


The WJC definitely has national pride + meaningful games. As a country we are 'devastated' when the U-20s don't bring home the gold, especially if the Americans or Russians beat us. By contrast, when we fail to take home the Spengler Cup, few people feel anything. The players competing in the WJC know what the expectations are and you can tell this by how hard they play. 


On #2, some of the best players U-20 are now in the NHL and not at the WJC. This is a bit of a difference between the Olympics and the WJC: it doesn't represent the absolute best-on-best. But this is a small number and, injuries aside, the WJC and the Olympics both involve the best players playing as hard as possible for their country. 


So what's missing from the WCOH? Well, for me, the biggest omission is #3. There is nothing the NHL could do to make these September games meaningful to the level that we see in the WJC or Olympics. Part if that is timing: the WCOH takes place when training camps are getting going, and no one wants to get hurt. The players who attend are all stars and the promise of an extra million dollars will certainly raise the stakes, but not enough to tangibly affect play on the ice. 


Another problem for the WCOH is #1. The national pride involved is highly artificial. When one of your countries is "Europe" and another Young North American Stars then it is very hard to get one's patriotic juices flowing for the outcome. 

Therefore, while there is a continuity between the Olympics and the WJC with age being the main differentiator, there is no real connection between the WCOH and the Olympics. It pales by comparison. This is why the NHL's strategy of trying to replace the Olympics with a home brewed alternative is a loser. 


Other Options for the NHL


Gary has been very clear that the opinions of people who are not part of the NHL don't matter to him very much so I'm not expecting much to change in the years to come. As always, Gary knows best.  


Here are some ideas to improve to the WCOH by differentiating it from the Olympics so that the two are no longer compared to each other. There are obvious logistical issues but right now I am just interested in the conceptual stage. 


A) Move the concept closer to the WJC than to the Olympics


Here is what I mean: they could host an NHL rookies vs Junior All-Stars tournament. This would suck some cachet away from the WJC. Imagine watching the top young stars in the NHL compete against players who will be high draft picks in the upcoming off-season. You could cap it at U-22 so the age range would be 17-21. 


This would still allow for some national pride, e.g. Canadian NHL Rookies and Canadian Undrafted Stars. You could do the same for Team Europe and Team USA. This would be a small tournament featuring only young NHL players and soon to be NHL players, but it automatically has more interest to me than the current WCOH. The meaningfulness of the games would not rival Olympic hockey but it could rival the WJC. 


B) Get away from national teams and go regional


Here is what I have in mind: suppose the teams were Team Ontario, Team Quebec, Team Alberta, Team BC, Team Prairies, and Team Atlantic Canada. Then add in Team Scandinavia, Team Central Europe, Team USA (northern states), and Team USA (southern states). 


As Canadians, we would love this format. People from Quebec are always extolling the virtues of their minor league hockey programs and this format would test out where the best NHL players come from. This would be a bigger tournament focusing on province/state of origin but it automatically has more interest to me than the current WCOH. The meaningfulness of the games would not be amazing, but one could imagine it falling into the mould of the World Baseball Classic. Fun, but still competitive. 


Anyway, those are some thoughts on what to do about the WCOH going forward. Option #1 should be killing it, or using it as a replacement for the All-Star game. Failing that, the NHL should reconceptualize it either as a showcase for young talent or as a way to inject regional rather than national pride. 


Low Hanging Fruit


  • This column on teams hiring reporters to write for team owned websites raises lots of points, some of which are well made.


  • Jonah Keri delivers a must-read on the Jays. I'll be curious to see how much discussion this gets on Sportsnet, since a lot of it is damning of the job Shapiro has done and Keri has been a regular guest on the FAN (and on TSN). Update: Jonah was on PTS with heir apparent Jeff Blair on Jan 3rd. Nice work Matt Marchese.


  • The ticket sales for the WJC have been weak. It will be interesting to see how the ratings are. Last year TSN saw huge numbers for many matches, averaging 2.1 million viewers for Team Canada's games. TSN execs must be praying they make it past the QF round this year.


  • We are 6 weeks away from the 1 year anniversary of the last big changes at both the FAN590 (Brady out) & TSN1050 (Overdrive, N&L in the morning, Richards to afternoons).


  • Speaking of Mike Richards, he has been tweeting and retweeting up a storm lately about his impending return. 


  • Nice to see the FAN giving some of the bench talent some reps. I just wish it wasn't all on the same day.


  • BONUS: How could I forget the greatest 15 seconds of radio of 2016. Here's Richard Deitsch telling Bob and Shannon — two popular subjects of conversation on TSM — how much he likes the work we do here. The awkward silence is priceless.





thanks for reading and commenting, sorry for the comments that were lost

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

photo credit: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images



  • comment-avatar
    GreyCountyMike 4 years ago

    As we have seen this year, not even the World Junior Hockey Championships are a sure bet in major Canadian markets. Attendance has been spotty at best.


        On the media side, nice work by Jeff O'Neill on the TSN roundtable following yesterday's Canada-U.S. game. Guy called it straight as it happened … no sugarcoating.

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    mario 4 years ago

    I enjoy watching all three of these, but nothing even comes close in my eyes than the Olympics. There are many pros and cons in all of these events, timing on when and where they are hosted is always the major issue just bring in the best of the best and people will watch. Politics&cost and timing are always a major stumbling block .

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    First let me state I liked this tournament in the beginning but I have no interest now.


        One factor the WJC has going for it is timing.  Much of its audience is on holidays when the tournament starts and builds momentum.  The audience, at least in Canada, associates Christmas with WJC.  Its in the middle of winter – hockey time.  TSN has a massive promotional push – its almost embarrassing in December.  I don't think this is something that WCOH can replicate.


        I'm not sure about the ON vs. QC vs. BC etc… it could work but it would take awhile.


        One suggestion for the NHL is to go to a more soccer type style where they have a separate tournament during the year.  To do this they'd have to reduce the # of regular season games… not particularly likely.  Also this could cannabalize playoff revenues.


        Overall, one of the biggest issues is it seems one of the biggest issues is they've basically maxed out on the # of games and length of season… They can't ask the players to play more games or play longer – well they can but we'd probably see a lot more injuries.


        Is it really realistic to think that the NHL can exploit China as a market?  How many hockey arenas do they have over there?  Is enough of the population affluent enough to be able to afford to put their kids in hockey etc. etc.


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    Matty Zero 4 years ago

    The main advantage the WJC hs over the World Cup is timing, but also 35 years of tradition. The hockey is (mostly) better, because it is not about money, for the players at least.


        Now, as for the World Cup, it could be successful if it replace the Olympics, and is held every 4 years, in various cities not just in Toronto. Having a best on best tournament every 2 years is a little bit too much, and waters down the specialness of the event for fans and players. It should also be held mid-season, in lieu of an All-Star game. In those seasons the League should play a 76 game schedule. So, in other words, it ain't happening.

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    Scrap the WCOH aka 'The Escrow Cup'. Send amateur players to represent Canada at the Olympics rather than have NHL players pimped by IOC bagmen. And did you hear Bill Daly on PTS the other day saying they haven't had any direct contact with the IOC in awhile and that he only heard the IOC has a deadline for Canada to confirm participation through a Tweet someone told him about? A tweet?? Couldn't one person on the panel call out Bill on his colossal BS?? ( 'What we read in the paper at some point in time or online or in some Tweet somewhere is that the IOC…') PTS Dec 30. 10 mins into podcast.

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    windsor oldtimer 4 years ago

    Another great read!! If no NHL deal for the Olympics; I wonder how man 2017 free agents will get 20 day Olympic Participation clauses in their new deals this summer!


  • comment-avatar
    (Another) Andrew 4 years ago

    <em>This would be a bigger tournament&nbsp;focusing on province/state of origin</em>


        Sounds like one of Australia's biggest sporting events – the State of Origin. It's rugby league – New South Wales versus Queensland. It arouses passions so much it destroys the regular rugby league championship game&nbsp;in the TV ratings.&nbsp; But with only two states playing the sport it is easier to pull off than a similar tournament in North America. Definitely more interesting than a 'World Cup' followed by only one country.

  • comment-avatar

    I love your website and check it regularly for insight and details on the world of media in T.O.  My only complaint/request for change is this…. Somewhat regularly you will post a story or tweet out news and say "more to come" or "more to follow". Problem is that it rarely comes or follows. An example is the tweet a few weeks ago in which you said something like "hearing rumblings of changes with the FAN morning show….more details to follow."  I checked daily for weeks and saw nothing… Did I miss it?
    Your site is great and bookmarked on all of my devices.  Please give us more on the ins and outs of what goes on with the FAN and 1050 as I find it really interesting… And please follow through on your follow ups when promoted.

    Great work…. Keep it up.


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    Wally 4 years ago

    My (likely unpopular) opinion is that hockey has flat-lined in its popularity. Both TSN and Sportsnet has financial interest in keeping the sport alive and likely won't even discuss this possibility but I truly believe that the sport of hockey has seen its height in popularity.&nbsp;


        A bullshit anecdote&nbsp;I've heard over the radio is that Toronto has had too many events and thus events like the WCOH, WJC, and Grey Cup suffered. I look at this in another lens being that perhaps Toronto is shifting their interest away from hockey&nbsp;to other sports. Do the Raptors, Jays and TFC have issues selling tickets? Even high-profile, expensive tickets? No, they don't. Yet because a hockey event hasn't sold out, there must be some magical force at work.&nbsp;


        I truly believe that hockey as the untouchable sports with respect to popularity is suffering.


        This, of course, would be a moot point if the Leafs begin to win. At least in this market.&nbsp;


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    I would favor the league playing during the Olympics but letting players leave to participate, like the African Cup of Nations, which is played in January during the fall futbol sesasons.

    Put a cap on how many players a team can lose (1/2 per country, max 5 total say).

    They say people root for laundry anyway, right? 🙂

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    Agree about the "more to come/follow". 

    That aside,  this is a great site and a must read for me.

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    daddohj 4 years ago

    You forgot Shannon: "Not to interrupt" as he interrupts again for the hundredth time

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    On another year end note – here's hoping everyone below leaves their overused words or phrases in the dust of 2016:

    Maclean: 'That's innerestin.'

    Blundell: 'Thanks Brutha.'

    Walker:   'The list.'

    Naylor:   'That reminds me of the ninety-one Grey Cup Final in Winnipeg.'  

    Landsberg: ‘We had him/her once on OTR, Off The Record, a TV show I hosted for 18 years on TSN. I’m a day one TSN-er’

    Cauz:  ‘I’ll be late tomorrow. I have a wine tasting tonight.’ (it’s a tasting, not an all you can drink bender)

    Wheeler: No specific word or phrase, just any word that contains a vowel or a consonant.

    Petrillo: 'Dude.'

    McCown: 'EBITDA.'

    Millard:  Any rambling call sign babbling that knocks the interviewee unconscious like Fred Flinstone hitting Barney with a frying pan.

    Kypreos: No word or phrase, just anytime MacLean says something mildly amusing and Kypreos screams laughing, drops his jaw, and jerks his head way back with his eyes popped out like cue balls. This is a laugh that should be reserved for white-cat-stroking Bond villains when detailing their plans to take over the world.

    Button: (yelling to hammer home this point about several young players) ‘I’ve known him since he was fifteen years old and I can tell you as good of a player as he is, as great of a player as he is, as much of a star as he is, he’s an even better person and human being.' Yes, Mr. Button, there are many 18-20 year old NHL players who would be short-listed for the Nobel Peace Prize were they not in the NHL. Give it a rest. This kind of sentiment should be reserved for a retirement party or HHOF induction, not about a nineteen year old with a deft wrist shot and a grade nine education.

    Hogan: 'Scrizz, get in here.'

    Hayes: 'That is wrong on so many levels.' Really? Name more than two. This was one of Andre Agassi’s favourites when giving serious interviews while on crack.

    McLennan: ‘Point being.’ and ‘That reminds me of one time in Vegas. (’Why is a guy in his mid-40s going to raves in Vegas hosted by a guy name Marshmello?)

    O'Neill: 'Ridonk.' or any reference to Brazzers.

    Ferraro: Anytime he turns a one syllable word into three syllables. McKenzie: 'N-that, you could say ostensibly, n-that.'

    Blair: 'Quite frankly.’ ( only when saying something that isn’t frank, which, quite frankly, is most often the case.) And ‘Hundred percent.’ – which he only uses when paired with Barker, but at least he enunciates the first D.

    Barker: 'Hunnerd percent.’ And the doubly effective, ‘Hunnerd percent, hunnerd pecent.’

    Zaun: At the end of the day Zaun has to stop saying ‘At the end of the day.’ before every single sentence out of his damn yapper.   

    The worst offender is a toss up between Barker and Zaun. I’ll give it to Barker though I find Zaun’s overuse more annoying. Also, in 2016 ‘Recency bias’ slowly began taking the place of ‘Small sample size’ for general overuse. Hayhurst actually said ‘…on the Pythagorean of success…’ when talking about something Jays related – still trying to figure that one out.  Happy 2017 sports media all. 

  • comment-avatar

    Any chance you can get access to sports TV ratings and post them weekly to fill the void left by Zelkovich? 

  • comment-avatar

    The word 'greasy' is way overused by Blundell/Rusic and Hayes/O'Neill.  So annoying.

    And whoever mentioned that someone must have whispered in Noodles' ear to sound smarter and has overused 'narrative' was bang on.

    McCown's usage of 'managing general' and a city's name as the team a Toronto team is facing (i.e. the Clevelands instead of Cavaliers or Indians) drives me bonkers.

    'Fabro'…'Bunkus'…seriously, no one wants to hear these guys.

    Walker and Redmond — "swipe left/right".  Am I the only one who has found both of these talents becoming increasingly annoying?

    Any references to 'possession'…'Corsi'…'WAR'…and any other advanced stats.  Stab my ears with a pencil, please.

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    Mullah_Kintyre 4 years ago

    Mike Richards "impending return" — to what and where? Does that mean something like a podcast or YouTube show like Ed The Sock's, or an actual radio station? Maybe he could follow other ex-Fan 1990s on-air personalities (Jim Richards, Barb DiGiulio, Jeff Sammut) and go to 1010. They fired Mike "The Stalker" Bullard back in October, and as far as I know have yet to replace him and have had Jim Richards doing four hours a day (instead his previous three) since then.

  • comment-avatar

    @daddohj Mr. Shannon said before Christmas on PTS that his contract with Sportsnet runs through 2018. So we can all look forward to that. 

  • comment-avatar
    Mullah_Kintyre 4 years ago

    Not to answer for TSM, but I would assume the answer is no, since they've been asked before. Numeris (formerly BBM) seems to be at least as inexplicably secretive with TV ratings as they are with radio ratings. Supposedly there may even be penalties for anyone discovered to be leaking the information.

    As far as I know the only TV ratings thing that gets intentionally released to the public is a weekly national list of the Top 30 TV shows, which will on rare occasions include a sports event like the Super Bowl, World Cup, or Olympics. Up until a few years ago it was also accompanied by similar weekly lists for some individual cities, but those disappeared without any explanation. Those did illustrate, perhaps to the consternation of the CFL who had dubiously attempted to insist otherwise, that the CFL was obviously far more popular ratings-wise in western Canada than the rest of the country and particularly in Toronto.

    Zelkovich, at least indirectly and I think maybe directly, acknowledged that the CFL was his source for his alleged TV ratings info for sports events — hardly surprising given how much of a cheerleader for the CFL he was. I have no idea how or why that arrangement went on for so long while everyone else was restricted from the information, other than guessing that maybe no one else cared enough to complain about it to BBM/Numeris while maybe they complained about anyone else doing the same thing.

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    Drumanchor 4 years ago

    Pretty funny and quite accurate observations. I would add 3 more for Mike Hogan:  

    1. "Thank you for this, sir." 

    2. A strongly forced sigh when talking about something that annoys him. 

    3. When something is  "AB – SO – lutely fan – TAS – tic!"

  • comment-avatar

    Things ebb and flow with sports. See the cover of Sports Illustrated 1994:

  • comment-avatar
    Wally 4 years ago

    Let's assume it is Jan 1, 2016 and we have absolutely no knowledge of the coming year and I told you that the Toronto sports scene would be the following:

    – Host NBA All-Star game

    – Deep Raptors playoff run

    – Deep Blue Jays playoff run

    – Deep Toronto FC playoff run

    – Grey Cup

    – World Junior Championship

    – World Cup of Hockey


    Then I asked: Which of these would struggle with attendance?

    Nobody would say "the hockey ones" and the Grey Cup yet here we are.

  • comment-avatar

    Zelkovich got his info from Numeris, not from a league. Media is allowed access to certain pieces of data but it's very limited. He wasn't the only one: Bill Brioux, Steve Faguy etc. all occasionally put out TV numbers.

    Still, it's very limited stuff at random and I do bet Numeris would take a dim view of granting access to a blog though. Chris was likely grandfathered into it from his days at the Star.

  • comment-avatar

    You have to include ticket prices to get a full picture. There were a lot of people that said Grey Cup @ $170-$900 would be a tough sell.

  • comment-avatar


    I don't think that the NHL will close down for the next Olympics unless NBC puts huge pressure on the league to do so. Is there much that the Olympics can do for the NHL long term? No, just as the summer Olympics do little for sports such as table tennis or fencing. And, don't kid yourselves….in the US, hockey ratings except during the Olympics are not much better than these two obscure sports. NHL owners are taking a huge risk with their player assets during the Olympics and costing themselves money by compressing the NHL schedule in Olympic years so unless the games originate from North America, they may not participate in future.

    Does the NHL want to go to the 2022 winter Olympics in China? I doubt it because the NHL has little to gain and potentially a lot to lose if hockey became popular in China. If China became a hockey hotbed (highly unlikely), Chinese authorities would set up their own league in their own time zones. The NHL would not benefit and it would reduce interest in its own product. Also, if Chinese players ever started to dominate the NHL (again most unlikely) would it be a ratings disaster just as happened with LPGA ratings once the Korean players started to dominate women's golf? Long term, the NHL is not interested in the Asian hockey market (maybe even afraid of it) and will not take steps to develop it.


    Toronto market for the CFL, World Juniors, and the World Cup of Hockey:

    The Argos should relocate to London, Ontario or KW. The CFL is not a major league sport and Toronto, fairly or not, is no longer interested in it. Small towns in Ontario might support the Argos but folks, it is over for the CFL here in Toronto. Also over is the situation where promoters think they can squeeze unlimited dollars out of the consumer, especially for made for TV events such the ridiculous World Cup of Hockey and the Junior tournament. Many live sports events in North America are seeing drops in attendance as well as TV ratings; it is now happening more frequently in Toronto as other expenses erode the ability of people to pay. By the way…just wait for developers and elements of City Council to proclaim that all Toronto/GTA needs to fix attendance problems is another taxpayer funded stadium or mega project like the Olympics/Expo!


    Future of Sportsnet and TSN:

    My prediction for 2017 is that Sportsnet and TSN on the TV side will amalgamate to create one combined sports option for the Rogers and Bell networks and for other carriers. The package will include all current Rogers and TSN products with more channels added. Without having to compete with each other for rights to various sports, rights costs will drop and ultimately the combined package will be cheaper than buying TSN and Sportsnet separately. This might be the only way to address the cord cutters and cord-never issue.

    With TV ratings dropping for many sports properties (Rogers hockey, CFL, auto racing, soccer, even the NFL) but with sports events still dominating the top 50 most watched shows on TV in the US, Rogers and TSN should strike now to develop a new combined effort while they have the chance to make the change on their own terms. If Rogers and TSN continue to compete, they might destroy the market for both of them or find out that they waited too long before reacting to market factors.

    On the radio side, TSN1050 has so few listeners that any change, including combining efforts with the FAN590 in the context of a new Sportsnet/TSN combined sports option, would work. Otherwise, my second prediction for 2017 is that TSN1050 will change format to something like CJFI or back to oldies in the second quarter of the year. The good radio personalities on TSN1050 will find new work quickly while the bottom ranked ones should reassess what they are doing.

    Any 2017 predictions from the Toronto sports media blog readers?

  • comment-avatar

    If Mike Richards moves to 590 morning drive it will be as close to a controlled experiment as we will ever get in Toronto comparing the ratings effect of the 590 vs 1050 signal given that Richards just left 1050 a year ago.

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    stephen 4 years ago

    In Canada, WJC is synonymous with Christmas.

    It's been a great event, mostly due to marketing and promotion of TSN; pretty much their event.

    But you know something's wrong when Hockey Canada have to reduce the cost of tickets twice during the same tournament.

    Was the initial ticket pricing a mistake made by the IIHF?

    Or, was Hockey Canada just greedy and mis-read the market.  

     Canada and the Northern US seem to be the only places that WJC makes decent coin.  Either get the tournament out of NHL rinks, or keep the cost of tickets reasonable.

    Clock's ticking on this event, how long before organizers kill the goose that lays the golden egg?


    I lost interest in the Olympics when they stopped being about amateur Olympians.

    I have zero interest in anything, "Olympic", except, Olympic hockey.

    Outside of the final 4 of the Stanley Cup, there's no better quality of hockey than Olympic hockey.

     There's nothing the NHL can do that would "create" an event to match what Olympic hockey provides, nothing.

    The only matter to which the NHL and the IOC are equal, is their greed and their desire to monetize anything and everything associated with NHL hockey at the Olympics.

    There's no way the WCOH will grow and evolve into a world class money-maker IF the NHL continues to support and participate in the Olympics.

    The NHL needs to pick a horse and exploit it!

    Which one will it be?


  • comment-avatar
    stephen 4 years ago

    Team writers…..
    Teams can certainly continue to, "hire their own writers to cover their teams", and that's their right; but I'll continue to ignore those writers, team websites and the resulting, requisite puffery. I'm already doing that with most of the Toronto's MSM beat writers who work for Bell & Rogers.

    For my time, Jonah Keri is a must read, one of the strongest writers going.

    I know it's early January, and there's still some heavy lifting to be done by Shapiro, but I'm not having a difficult time accepting, "2017 Blue Jay's roster isn't likely to be as good as the 2016 one was".  I certainly won't be rushing to buy any tickets before first pitch, last year I waited till June. It looks like I might be waiting a little longer this season, perhaps not even bothering.

  • comment-avatar
    stephen 4 years ago

    "Impending return"…. perhaps on AM640, another station no one listens to….
    Richards was insignificant at 1050.
    He wasn't funny; he wasn't informative; he wasn't entertaining.
    When he returns to "air", his "shtick" will continue to be insignificant.

  • comment-avatar
    stephen 4 years ago

    Great list, yaz. Spot on.



  • comment-avatar

    They just announced on 590 that Richard Deitsch will be co-host of Blair's show during the week of January 16 and he will also be co-host of PTS for part of that week

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    Mullah_Kintyre 4 years ago

    Some of those bloggers or columnists may say it's Numeris ratings, but that doesn't mean they got it directly from Numeris, but almost certainly through a third party, as TSM also says about the radio ratings info they get. And that was just about the only question of mine that they (Numeris) actually answered when I exchanged some emails with them two or three years ago. They said they did not give out any information to non-members (the members being advertising and TV executives) beyond what they publish on their website, and any other such information appearing in media must have been passed along by someone other than Numeris. Just about everything else they said was an annoying bunch of nonsense that avoided answering the questions I asked.

    I'm not not going to bother reading through every single Zelkovich column or blog, but here's one direct quote showing what I mean when he would at least strongly imply where he was getting it from, when he was attempting to relay the CFL's claims that their TV ratings in southern Ontario were good despite not providing any actual ratings info specifically for the region. — "The league won't supply actual audience numbers for what is known as the CFL's dead zone, which always makes the percentages a bit suspicious."

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    Anyone who says "transpire" instead of "happen". Especially Bob McGill. And would someone please tell McGill to stop blabbering while the play is going on? I might be the only one who watches Marlie games, but I'd still like to hear who is making the plays while they happen.

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    Let me see if Chris Z can clarify this statement, and whether there has been a change in how numbers are released.


    I think we all know that Numeris allows their clients to package the raw data in a “choose your own adventure” fashion. It’s basically the opposite from the way Nielsen operates in the US. We have it bad here in Canada … pure Hollywoo math.

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    Those rating stats mentioned were released publicly by the CFL in a press release and discussed by commissioner Cohon at the year end press conference. It wasn't leaked just to Chris. Here's a CP article saying much of the same thing: . The list data comes straight from the source I believe.

    And At the end of the day it's no different than any of the other Canadian sports or TV properties. Hack the data best you can and selectively cherry pick the best info to give to the press. Though I will say it got pretty shady this year when the league started to imply the game's reach was the AMA as the Blue Jays and the NFL were beating them handily every week. That was just straight misrepresentation.

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    Other side of the coin 4 years ago

    Just playing devils advocate but why is it some sort of right that people get access to viewership data? If ad agencies and stations fit the bill for the technology then unless to you are TV/Radio advertiser no one here seems to have a divine right to the data. 

    Ad agencies and broadcasters aren't selling to advertisers that the Centennial classic did a 1.5 million viewers.   A TV/Radio campaign is generally made up of thousands of spots. What ad agencies sell to clients is in that collective of thousands of spots the client will gain the awareness or whatever product or service they want to promote which by and large TV/Radio has a 50+ year track record of doing regardless of how someone thinks the data is recorded.

    At the end of the day you can question any type of data.  For example in the digital space why is Facebook and Google by and large allowed to mark their own homework by reporting activity in their space instead of a 3rd party. Questions that in general go above and beyond the scope of this site (Great site btw) 

    Sorry about this being long winded below is my last point. 

    Please people especially reporters who read this site don't take any broadcaster press release at face value. Things to look out for in general.  If you don't see a press release for a major event in 48 hours it didn't do well.  For example you don't see Sportsnet filling the internet with a PR release over the Centennial Classic.  Why?  You guessed it, it didn't do well.  The Centennial Classic did an average minute audience of 1.5 million people ages 2+.  That number in itself is B.S since no advertiser buys on 2+ but whatever it's the biggest number so I can see why it's on a press release.  However you will really know an event under performed when a press release lists the total number of people reached or the number of people who streamed it online.

    For example Steve Simmons got busted for this a couple of months ago with the CFL saying the Labour game day did 2.9 million when all that means is 2.9 million people watched one second of the game.  The average minute audience was much lower

    Now the question no one will ask and at the end of the day truly decides the success of an event is the actual audience number compared to what was estimated to the TV advertiser.

    The biggest offender in this regard is Raju Mudhar. The World Cup of hockey was a ratings disaster compared to what was promised to TV advertisers.  If you were a major sponsor of the World Cup of Hockey it's a safe bet you got a ton of Hockey Night in Canada spots for free the first couple of months of the season.  That is why articles like the one below make my eyes roll since it doesn't tell the true story and the people promoting this info how no clue what really determines if an event is a success or failure.;

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    "Just playing devils advocate but why is it some sort of right that people get access to viewership data? If ad agencies and stations fit the bill for the technology then unless to you are TV/Radio advertiser no one here seems to have a divine right to the data. "


    This is an excellent point and a great post. The only thing I can come up with that is remotely plausible is that Bell and Rogers are publicly traded companies and have duties of transparency to their shareholders. If I'm buying into the company then I want to know how well the product is selling. But even that is not very convincing.


    I'll see if I can find someone smart to talk about the differences between the US and Canadian models.

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    Other side of the coin 4 years ago

    Thank you.

    From my understanding broadcasters (all of them CBC, Corus etc) fit most of the bill for Numeris (ad agencies kick in some) Numeris is as much as they can be an independent 3rd party data measurement provider.  I can safely say (no inside knowledge however) that don't kneel to whatever whims broadcasters may have because at the end of the day broadcasters need Numeris in order for them to sell inventory. Bell, Rogers etc can't bully Numeris. 

    For example I loved how two years ago Scott Moore bitched about Numeris due to NHL ratings tanking in the first year of their deal.  Notice he never bitches about it when the Blue Jays were a success.–nonsense—says-bell-media-000827918.html &nbsp;  

    Now am I saying Numeris and their data is perfect?  No, in fact all data should be questioned to various degrees so it may or may no be better then the US but I tend to compare it to polling companies.

    During elections polling companies ask 2,000 or so people for which Canadian party they are going to vote for and that seems to be the way an election goes. Point I'm trying to make is regardless of the number polled it's still much smaller than the Canadian population. Can the panel of 2,000 in the end be wrong or slightly off?  Of course but usually it comes close.  The same really can be said for Numeris.  At the end of the day the panel of people who are in Numeris tend to draw a conclusion one would guess without knowing the data.  For example if an event doesn't have the buzz as previous years (NHL Hockey playoffs last year for example) I'm never seen Numeris end up reporting that viewership is up.  On the flip side if it's a great Super Bowl or TFC's playoff run the final viewership data will reflect the success of it. 

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    Liberty Village Bob 4 years ago

    "Can the panel of 2,000 in the end be wrong or slightly off?  Of course but usually it comes close.  The same really can be said for Numeris." @Other side of the coin


    Numeris would be very credible if they had 2000 sports radio PPMs. Unfortunately their radio ratings are based on around 50 people who are not randomly selected from a larger pool of volounteers. IOW, statistically meaningless data from a self-selected sample with no control group.


    TV is another story since they can track cable boxes more easily.

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    No ratings agency would track "sports radio PPMs". That's not how it works. You can't weight the sample by listening preferences when the preferences are what you are measuring.

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    Other side of the coin 4 years ago

    A national polling survey of 2000 in a country of 35 million isn't a lot. Case in point below.

    You are comparing apples and oranges since while the Toronto PPM panel size is smaller than 2,000 so is the population.  Nationally the Numeris panel is way more than 2,000 people. 

    TV isn't another story since Numeris doesn't/can't track cable boxes. Only your TV provider can and even so it's only at a postal code level.  They don't know if it's your wife or child for example watching a certain program. Plus Bell and Rogers don't share that data with each other. 

    The same method of measurement (PPM meter) is the same for radio as it is for TV.  Honestly do you want big brother tracking everything you view on TV?  That is the only way TV data would be close to 100% accurate. 

    Back to Nielsen in the US and how they measure TV.  They currently only measure TV via a set up box in your home.  What if you are in the Nielsen panel and watch a game at a bar?  That viewership isn't counted historically and only now they are starting to address that.  Since the PPM in Canada is portable that isn't the case here.

    Now I'm not here to say that Numeris is better than Nielsen or vice versa. Each have pluses and minutes.  I am trying to say is stop taking the data so literally, it's used as a guide for a much bigger picture than the discussions that goes on in this website. A guide that has proven correct historically for it's true purpose.  



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    Other side of the coin 4 years ago

    BTW sorry for all the typos, multi tasking doesn't seem to be my friend currently

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    Steve 4 years ago

    Completely agree. This is an TSM issue versus MIB. Constantly posting/tweeting small clickbait-type tweets. For example, one tweet mentioned changes coming at the Canadian sports blogs on Yahoo. That seems like two months ago. Absolutely zero mention of it since, so either it happened and there was no followup or TSM was wrong about it and doesn't have the balls to admit he was wrong.

    This is a great site in general, even if it does skew a little heavy on the radio side for my liking, but the pointless speculation from TSM really detracts should he break any real/serious news.

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    Thanks for the feedback

    Let me try to explain my philosophy.  Over the course of doing this for about 10 years now is that I have developed a really reliable network of people whom I trust.  I don't ever write a story about anything I can't verify by more than 2 (preferably) 3 sources.  There are times when I hear things from one really reliable source and either I don't get it verified or to be honest I get busy and forget to follow it up.  In those instances I use Twitter to communicate what I am hearing about.

    With respect to Yahoo!, I stand by sources that those sites will be closed down.  Do you want me to keep writing that I am hearing the same thing despite it not happening yet?

    If you've read me for any length of time you will know that I am the first to admit I was wrong.

    When I write things like more to come or more to follow in a story, again, my intent when I write things like that in a story its with the expectation that the story will develop.  If you are asking for me to write, hey I said I would provide more later and nothing more has happened I can do that, i presumed people figured out that if I had more to offer I would have.

    Thanks as always for the feedback…if the Tweets really bother you, and you love what Mike writes, you can still read the site and simply unfollow me… not being an ass, just saying..



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    To be honest, I think TV ratings are much more publicly available than radio ratings.  I can do some digging. I am fairly certain I can get the TV numbers if someone wants to write them up.



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    It's possible that's the case but hasn't been my experience with looking. For example, what have been the ratings for any game of the World Juniors so far? Don't know because they don't seem to be anywhere even though Numeris has released them for all games by now. But without a TSN release (which would imply they are lower than their expectations/not something to promote) and the Yahoo blog now gone it seems impossible to find. 

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    For reference, the above linked Bell press release is dated January 6th, after the tounrament ended. Makes sense to wait until all the numbers are in. 

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    TSM tweeted he was hearing about changes to The Fan's morning show a while ago.  Does Richards go there solo?  Or maybe even Blundell & Richards?  Hard to imagine but possible I guess.

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    It was really interesting to see the high overhead crowd shot before the semifinal game between Canada and Sweden to see tons of empty seats.  TSN hypes this as the biggest thing on the calendar, and I guess in terms of TV ratings its hard to argue.  Besides the CFL, this is their only other tentpole production.  Where Hockey Canada makes its mistake is that they put this event in NHL cities with NHL pricing.  In their eyes, seeing these young players whom, without the allure of wearing their respective country's uniforms you might not otherwise know or care about is worth tickets in the hundreds of dollars.  So they were competing for the same dollars as the Leafs and Habs.  You can see where this was going to fail.  This event needs to be in smaller cities lacking NHL teams with affordable tickets.   I hope Vancouver/Victoria are paying attention.  If they price it like Canucks tickets it will underwhelm the same way Toronto and Montreal have twice done.

    As for the WCOH, well that was a farce to begin with.  It was the NHL's way of saying "I'll show you!" to the IOC and it failed, miserably.  I'm not surprised, and I don't think too many people are, either.   If they really want to grow the game, they need to be at the Olympics.  Period.  The Olympics provide a better cachet than the NHL/NHLPA acting like spurned lovers. 

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    I do not think an nhl tournament should be based on countries but players.

    In as such I propose the following
    8 team leaders are selected.
    Those leaders are then able to draft any player in the world they wish, in some sort of pre determined draft order.

    The 8 team leaders are selected from the following criteria over 4 NHL seasons.

    Nhl first team all star
    Second team all star
    Hart trophy
    Norris trophy
    Vezina trophy
    Con Smyth
    Rocket Richard
    Ted Lindsey
    The above and perhaps other major awards assigned 20 points
    Save percentage have to work some formula out to give goaltenders points.
    The highest point getting centre, left wing,right wing, defenseman, 2nd defenseman, goaltender plus next 2 highest are selected team leaders.
    They then select a coach and draft players. They have a three day mini camp and then away they go in an 8 team tournament.

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    Too Loose La Trek 4 years ago

    Another is Gord Stellick. Have a drink every time he says "That way" and you'll be short one liver by midnight.

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    K-Dawg647 4 years ago

    On PTS roundtable, Blair just referred to WJC shootout as, "…a fruitty European thing!". Earlier in week he dropped an a-bomb, again during PTS. Real classy and professional……

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    Well we have one game's ratings finally. Like I suspected from the silence it wasn't too pretty by comparison, TSN's audience was down 30% from the last gold medal game in Canada (6M in 2015, 4.2M last night). Can only guess the other games had similar drops.

    And what is with them continuing the shell game of putting reach in the headline above AMA which is actually relevant? Are the PR guys at Bell Media actually fooling anyone. 

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    Don’t like the idea at all. What interest would you have in supporting any given team?

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    Mostly fun quality hockey.The same reason people were rooting for the u23 team.

    But my hope would be that each team takes on a slightly different character and make up. A team that has Connor Mac David on it is not likely to also have the best defenseman and best goaltender.
    Will still have very good players you just want have 6 of the top 8 defenseman all on the same team.

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    @Mike V 4.2 million viewers in a country of about 36.5 million is a tremendous success. Yes, less than last year but by no means considered a failure.

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    As I often have to do when people start talking ratings and sample size here is a link to an academic sample size calculator.

    Basically fill it in with the numbers you want and it tells you the amount of participants you need in a study to make it academically sound.


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    Team North America were underdogs who were comprised of players looking to show off their exceptional skills.

    The idea you present, which has some merit, would be similar to the Biosteel Cup. Of course, it’s not full of star players, but I could care less who won the Biosteel Cup.

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    Liberty Village Bob 4 years ago

    The sample size calculator is about how many people you need to interview in order to meet research standards for a population. Numeris doesn't interview people.


    The sample size calculator doesn't take into account the soundness of your measurements. Numeris doesn't measure streaming or podcasting.


    Sample size is just one aspect of generating academically sound data. You also need to control for bias in your sample, among other things. These things are peer reviewed before publication.


    To compare what Numeris does to academic research is appless and oranges.

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    Similarly I don’t really care who wins world championships, world juniors or the Ivan hlinka tournament. But if I read or here there is an exceptional player or I turn it on an the game is fun to watch I may continue to watch. If canada is betting someone 5 nothing half way through the first I don’t pay attention.
    I think you turn the draft into a TV show. Try to show the players having fun with the idea.

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    Hey folks – I'm off from writing for a while so keep the discussion rolling in the comments section here. Jonah and I are working on our 2016 best and worst awards and just can't seem to agree with respect to several categories. Should make for good discussion when it goes live.


    Quick hits:


    – TheAthletic is giving its readers free booze this wednesday. Interesting marketing strategy … let's see if it pays off

    – Dean Blundell is back in the news as the bigotry/miscarriage of justice case in which he played a part reached its conclusion this week with the accused having his charges stayed. The Star story ends with "A few weeks after the Star first wrote about Welsman’s on-air conduct, the Dean Blundell Show was cancelled." Interesting that they don't mention he now has a show on the FAN.

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    Other side of the coin 4 years ago

    Numeris doesn't measure streaming or podcasting.

    Numeris isn't in the business of measuring streaming or podcasting which brings me back to the point I keep trying to make. 

    Numeris also isn't in the business of supplying information for sports media geeks (for which I am also one)

    Numeris is in the business of providing a method of measure that radio/tv broadcasters sell on and advertising agencies buy on and that's it.  This method of measurement and the science behind it no one here has been able to come up with a better method without privacy concerns being thrown out the window.  The role/data that Numeris provides serves it's sole function. 


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    Numeris does measure streaming. And I've been told it includes podcasts as well.

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    Depends on what expectations were. If they told advertisers buying time that they audience would be 5.5 million than this is definitely a disappointment. 30% is a steep drop and not just compared to the game in Toronto. It looks to be the lowest gold medal game with Canada in it since PPM tracking began by quite a bit. 

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    Mario 4 years ago

    Thanks for the great read. Really look forward for your next best and worst article.

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    I think Blair shocked everyone when he dropped the a-bomb that day. I was watching the TV cast at the time and Damian Cox looked like a deer in the headlights when it happened with his facial expression. I wonder if anything will happen with Blair or will they just to move poast it unless the CRTC gets an complaint.


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    Numeris doesn’t explicitly state that they measure streaming on their website. They only mention TV and radio. Notice that they also don’t say how many PPMs are in use. Notice also that the diary system is still widely used.



    Regardless, the future (or even the present) is not in PPM capturing of streams but in app based data. Nielsen is doing this now in the US. So a radio station will get a report on how many people used the app each month, for how long, which shows, etc. You can opt out of having your listening habits sent to Nielsen. It’s buried in the app.

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    Last thought: networks/stations are trying to cut out the middleman by developing their own digital measurement tools. You may have noticed that Bell is advertising iheartradio. Guess what their privacy policy contains? By using the app you are agreeing to send them data on what you listen to. Sign up using Facebook? Now they know a bunch more info about you. If you sign up using another method they ask for gender and age. 


    Ps. Iheartradio is owned by Clear Channel in the US. 

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    Numeris has put out topic pieces that show topline breakouts of streaming and podcasts that would also imply they track it:

    As long as the stream still has the station identification signal in it, it would be picked up by the PPM same way a terrestrial signal is. And what benefit would it be to remove it?

    Diaries are only used now in smaller markets where there aren't enough PPMs in the pool for local radio measurement. Those are also in the process of moving online from paper versions, that's causing a drop in reported listening. More details here:

    App based data may be the future but it's still a ways off before it becomes the dominant way of receiving radio (according to the above only 25% of millienials stream radio now). TV is even further behind, when streaming numbers are released for the US they are typically in the 1-2% of total audience.


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    Liberty Village Bob 4 years ago

    @ other side of the coin —– "Numeris is in the business of providing a method of measure that radio/tv broadcasters sell on and advertising agencies buy on and that's it."


    You're totally right. Numeris' ratings have nothing to do with measuring audience sizes. Which is why Blair's 9.0 vs Cauz's .07 is meaningless for anyone except Saul Korman when he have to decide how much ad $$ to spend at each place. Radio revenues are tiny when you look at local ads for one station. Canadian Tire is buying ads for the entire radio network of stations at Rogers, Bell, Corus … they don't give a shit if Overdrive is doing better than Naylr in the afternoon. they are buying for the whole country across all demos.


    the discussion here is fun but is really ignorant of how things actually work.

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    Liberty Village Bob 4 years ago

    @ Mike V – the pdf you linked lists data from a survey not from ppms. Numeris is constantly calling people and asking then to particpate in self-reprting surveys. this is different from the people who are paid to wear ppms.different data sets and collection methods.

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    Well it doesn't actually say where the data is from. But my point is, Numeris tracks streaming and its included in the radio ratings we see. 

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    if you look at the blogs I tweeted about- none have been touched in almost 2 months.  Me thinks they are officially dead.