Covid Killed The Radio A look at the latest Toronto Sports Media Ratings As Toronto Was Locked Out

<span class="entry-title-primary">Covid Killed The Radio</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">A look at the latest Toronto Sports Media Ratings As Toronto Was Locked Out</span>


Ultimately, a lockdown keeping people at home was more than enough to completely body slam the Toronto sports radio market. Despite the return of Toronto Blue Jays baseball and the short-lived Maple Leafs, um, playoff appearance, the fact is the vast majority of the audience (as based upon Numeris ratings) was at home and did not turn on their radios at all to listen to sports or sports talk.

Now, were people streaming? Probably. Or, I will say definetely. How many? How often? Sorry, that data is hard to come by. Before getting into that, lets look at the most recent book:

Station M25-54 M25-54   M18-34 M18-34
  % Share of Hrs. Tuned % Share of Hrs. Tuned   % Share of Hrs. Tuned % Share of Hrs. Tuned
  March 1- May 30 Nov. 30-Feb. 28   March 1- May 30 Nov. 30-Feb. 28
M-Fr. 6a-9a          
FAN 590 1.0 1.2   0 0.1
TSN 1050 1.1 1.0   0.1 0.2
M-Fr. 12p-1p          
FAN 590 5.2 4.4   0.1 0.5
TSN 1050 0.9 0.4   0.2 0.1
M-Fr. 1p-4p          
FAN 590 2.9 1.8   0.3 0.1
TSN 1050 1.0 0.7   0.5 0.1
M-Fr. 4p-7p          
FAN 590 2.1 2.0   0.2 0.3
TSN 1050 6.5 3.4   0.1 0.1

Thanks to David Bray for the rating breakdown as usual!

The grand conclusion, no one under 35 is listening to live sports radio talk or daytime games. Like, LITERALLY NO ONE.

The second conclusion, with the exception of the noon hour, no one is listening to the Fan at all and up until the afternoon drive, no one is tuning into TSN either.

Of course, the usual caveats. One book does not make a trend. And what would an article about ratings be without steamrolling 20x Numeris and just how stupid and outdated their system is.

The question I guess over at Rogers is, did all the cuts they made on talent defeat the overall purpose of cost savings by eviscerating their total audience?

At TSN, I guess the question would be, given the consistency of the lineup, and the current ratings, are changes warranted.

Of course, all of this has a massive asterisk.

When (not if) things are back to normal and people are back at work will they return to the radio and old listening habits?

Has COVID furthered the habit of streaming on-demand to the point where other manufacturers are going to follow TESLA and no longer provide terrestrial radios? In other words, is it now all about streaming?

Living on the west coast I used to think I was the only idiot out there who would listen to old talk sports radio shows. Bit by bit, others have started to do the same. With Covid, streaming live on a device OR after the fact is currently the vehicle of choice.

Streaming provides me with the most choice and the ability to listen to what I want when I want. When the Fan morning show has an amazing segment, I can choose to listen to that, and only that. When the Jays signed Springer, I tuned into Blair. That is who I wanted to hear. When Blair talked only with his baseball central sidekick, I fast-forwarded. When the Leafs got bounced, I wanted to hear Over-Drive. When they talked about betting lines, I skipped or didn’t listen to that segment.

Clearly, others are doing the same.

What is quite incredible (or maybe not) is the audience size and loyalty to OverDrive. They are absolutely now in McCown land in terms of traditional rating land. If you want to say that COVID has resulted in a 50 % reduction in ratings, then the conclusion is even more pronounced as that would take them into the land of WOW ratings.

What is clear, is that as it relates to live, terrestrial radio the audience has shrunk dramatically. In the younger demographics, it’s gone. So the issue of this show vs. that show seems irrelevant given the quality (lack thereof) of data we have.

Therefore, I don’t think this is the right post to talk about the quality of this show vs. that. I think a post where we ask you to rate all the talent and Mike and I do the same should happen after the fall book. I assume there will be some degree of changes between now and then, and until then there is no need. Put another way, I don’t think most time slots very much can compete with OD right now and who is on where and when seems somewhat irrelevant.

Summer is typically the radio graveyard. Having said that his summer could be very different. Will people be flocking to the cottage, or headed to offices when the lockdown fully ends? That could provide a slight bump, maybe an aberration.

Does Masai stay or go? That could have an effect. Where do the Raptors draft, what happens with Kyle, do they make a big trade, is there a splash in free agency? Those things coupled with more people in cars could lead to a bump for both stations.

It’s the same story for the Maple Leafs. Does the fact they have no first-round pick (and currently so few picks in total) lead to less interest in the draft? Do people in the GTA care about the expansion draft? With the Leafs tight to the cap, is free agency not a big deal this year? Do they make a trade of significance? All of those things could alter the typical trends of summer.

With the Blue Jays, it’s a little more basic. Do they stay in the hunt, are they players at the trade deadline, do they stay in Buffalo or come home, do they recognize how brutal the simulcast is and go to a standalone radio broadcast? These are all things that could impact the ratings, especially at the Fan.

For now, not much else to say on the topics of radio ratings.

What, say you?

Interesting to see TNT and ESPN load up on free agents heading into their new NHL contracts. I still can’t believe they hired 99 to be a studio analyst.

I wonder if either network will try to grab any talent from Rogers or TSN, if they are smart, and they want to get hockey right they will especially on the technical side of the house.

I am quite surprised how little coverage the cheating pitcher’s story seems to be getting in Canada compared to the USA. Any idea why that may be?. Yes, some scribes have tweeted about here or there, just not A LOT of coverage out there vs. here in the USA.

Not as currently orchestrated, but my Canada does include the CFL. I’ve been pretty transparent on what I think they need to do, I will say this, they need to find a way to play. Three downs or four, USA players or Canadian, just get the games back on.

Literally everywhere I turn now there are ads or promotions for betting in sports. It’s like that awful follow-up to the original Back To The Future Movie where Biff is running around in the past with the Sports Almanac from the future. I will say this if it draws in interest and there is tax revenue associated with it that can be put to good use, I am for it.

I was able to chat with an old pal on the Podcast this week. He has been a lifer at ESPN living the dream that many of us aspired to cover sports for ESPN. I think you will really enjoy this episode:

Till next time…



  • comment-avatar

    Not a shock. I stream OD most days, podcast it on others. I also listen to Hockey Central on the Fan. I must be the target because that’s really all I listen to in the Toronto market. And I am in the demo. Leafs Lunch has lost its way. Petrillo is not good radio (Roe is a no go too). And that slot clearly has people seeking content. Both morning shows are yawners. Maybe it’s all gone but I still think the first station to claim an FM slot wins.
    Give Leafs Lunch to Cauz. Let Al’s brother and some other dude lead into OD. Make radio fun again.

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    Overdrive can be a lot of fun but also occasionally cringeworthy. OF course I’m referring to Jeff O’Neill taking up 10 minutes of air time vociferously arguing that Cleveland and Detroit are east of Toronto.

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    Can’t say I’m surprised. Sports radio in this city has never been close to this bad imo. Combine that with far fewer car commuters due to covid and the rise of podcasts – it makes sense that we’re seeing this dreadful book! Curious how Good Show is doing by the way, noticed the 9-12 shows aren’t on the chart.

    Have to say it kind of feels like within 4 or 5 years both TSN and Sportsnet might not even bother with station signals, and just go with streaming and podcasts. TSN especially! I don’t wish for anyone at that station to lose their job, but I’m not sure what the justification would be for keeping that station running when they are drawing virtually no listeners at all other than Overdrive. Overdrive could easily become a podcast/stream/tv simulcast rather than a show on terrestrial radio.

    It is sad to see the decline of radio but I definitely understand how it’s gotten this way. I know I’ve gone from listening to the sports radio quite a bit to really just listening to podcasts. It’s so much more convenient. As someone who loves sports but isn’t a hockey fan, I used to find it frustrating waiting through shows or segments I wasn’t interested in. Now I just download podcasts with segments I want to hear, and skip anything I don’t – it is so so much more convenient as a listener.

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    I can’t fathom how 590 morning drive went from an 8-9 share during the Brady & Walker 2014 era down to a 1 share in 2021. Even in 2017 they were still drawing between a 6-7. I’m guessing part of the explanation is that morning radio draws people who want to catch up on what they missed the night before. Twitter/apps have made that something you can establish in a few seconds on your phone. I wonder if we will ever see big ratings in the morning again.

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    Ross 4 days ago

    I listen to a lot of Toronto sports radio…all via podcast. I like the FAN590 shows as a whole much more than what TSN1050 offers. In fact, I’ve long since given up on all TSN1050’s radio shows except Overdrive. I usually listen to full shows so the ability to skip around doesn’t really benefit me. What I like mostly about podcasting is the ability to listen on my phone while I’m cycling and I do a lot of that. I don’t even have a car.

    Overdrive continues to be hilarious. I loved the segment on “interesting” ways of cooling yourself down in the summer heat. I do wish they had better regular guests and were more knowledgeable about sports other than hockey (and golf).

    Gord Miller segments on the radio also continue to irritate me. He seems to bring up the same talking points every interview like how he has always hated the Tavares signing. I’ve noticed he loves to namedrop and back up his arguments by saying stuff like a “GM told me such and such…” – it just sounds very elitist to me. I used to enjoy hearing him call Leaf games but hearing him talk outside of the broadcast booth has really tarnished my opinion of the guy. It was such a pleasure having Chris Cuthbert call the majority of games this past season. I also hope Jim Hughson stays home in Vancouver next year.

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    Based on the numbers on this site, since the fall of 2017 the rating in the key demographic for the 590 morning show has gone from 5.2 to 5.0 to 4.7 to 3.7 to 2.6 to 1.5 to 1.2 to 1.0…………..I could be wrong but I sense a bit of a trend