SBJ/December 17-23, 2012/Media

Radio roundup: Yanks lead way despite drop

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

The Cincinnati Reds jumped past the Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers to register the largest share of radio listeners among a key demographic in 2012, while the New York Yankees, playing in the nation’s top market, once again had the league’s largest audience.

Those results highlight the 2012 MLB regular-season data provided to SportsBusiness Journal by radio tracking firm Arbitron.

Radio broadcasts of Cincinnati Reds games owned a 26.3 percent share of men 25-54.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
In Cincinnati, the Reds’ broadcasts on Clear Channel-owned WLW-AM averaged a league-leading 26.3 share among the male 25-54 demographic, up 23 percent over the comparable mark in 2011. That means that 26.3 percent of all men ages 25 to 54 who were listening to the radio in Cincinnati this summer when the Reds were playing were tuned to the team’s games on the club’s flagship station, WLW.

The Reds’ radio performance over the past three years mirrors the team’s on-field performance: In 2010 and 2012, the club finished first in its division and first in radio listenership across MLB. In 2011, the club finished in third place in both categories.

Detroit, No. 2 on this year’s list, saw its share mark increase 19 percent from 2011, to 25.9. The increase came in a season that saw the Tigers advance to the World Series.

The Brewers, meanwhile, fell from No. 1 last year to No. 3 in 2012. Milwaukee advanced to the National League Championship Series in 2011 but missed the playoffs this year, finishing third in the NL Central.

In terms of raw audience size, while both the Yankees and the New York Mets benefit from playing in the nation’s largest market, CBS Radio, which holds the radio rights for both clubs, has seen steep drops in the audience for those teams’ games over the past few seasons. The Yankees’ league-leading average of 297,200 listeners per game on WCBS in 2012 represented a year-over-year decrease of 18 percent and a drop of 34 percent compared with 2010. The Mets’ WFAN had the season’s third-highest average audience size this year (209,100 per game), but that was 3 percent lower than 2011 and 28 percent less than 2010.

This is the fourth time Arbitron has compiled a comprehensive MLB report of Portable People Meter data. The compilation includes listener data for MLB’s 29 teams in 25 markets where the PPM service has been put into place. Arbitron does not measure the Toronto market.

Under the PPM service, the device that makes the data possible is worn like a pager. It detects encoded audio tones within a station’s audio stream, logging each time that it finds such a signal. The service was introduced in 2007 as a way to eliminate the decades-old handwritten diary system.

Among other key findings for this year and dating comparatively through 2009:

In Chicago, the White Sox, who were alive in 2012 for a playoff spot until late in the season, averaged 135,500 listeners on WSCR this year, marking the teams’ highest average over the measured time period. The Cubs averaged 138,000 listeners on WGN in 2012, the team’s third straight decline. The Cubs have lost half their average per game radio audience since 2009; similarly, the team’s attendance at Wrigley Field has fallen four straight seasons — all seasons in which the team has missed the playoffs.

In the Mid-Atlantic, the Washington Nationals’ measured share more than doubled on WJFK-AM, up from a 3.0 in 2011 to a 6.8 this season. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles’ 7.8 share represented a 66 percent improvement on WBAL-AM. The Orioles this year made their first playoff appearance since 1997 while the Nationals made their first appearance since moving to the nation’s capital prior to the 2005 season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 15.5 share on KDKA-FM was more than double the club’s 2010 rate.

The St. Louis Cardinals averaged 116,600 listeners per game on KMOX-AM, translating to a year-over-year drop of 20 percent.

The Los Angeles Dodgers averaged 99,700 listeners on KLAC-AM. This was the station’s first year as a rights holder, and the year-over-year increase of 40 percent for the team was the biggest audience surge in MLB.


Top 10: By Share

Average percentage of male listeners, ages 25-54, who tuned into a local game for at least five minutes

Rank Team Station (Owner) 2012 2011 2010
1 Cincinnati Reds WLW (Clear Channel) 26.3 21.4 26.2
2 Detroit Tigers WXYT/WXYT-FM (CBS Radio) 25.9 21.7 20.4
3 Milwaukee Brewers WTMJ (Journal Communications) 20.8 22.0 13.1
4 Pittsburgh Pirates KDKA-FM (CBS Radio) 15.5 13.6 7.2
5 St. Louis Cardinals KMOX (CBS Radio) 15.4 19.1* 17.3
6 Philadelphia Phillies WPHT/WIP-FM (CBS Radio) 15.4 13.7 11.5
7 San Francisco Giants KNBR (Cumulus) 12.9 12.4 10.4
8 Cleveland Indians WTAM (Clear Channel) 11.0 17.2 10.8
9 Boston Red Sox WEEI-FM (Entercom) 9.9 9.6 9.7
10 Seattle Mariners KIRO (Bonneville International) 9.8 9.9 8.3

Top 10: By Audience Size

Average number of listeners who tuned in for at least five minutes (ages 6+)

Rank Team Station (Owner) 2012 2011 2010
1 N.Y. Yankees WCBS (CBS Radio) 297,200 363,000 448,100
2 San Francisco Giants KNBR (Cumulus) 216,200 216,300 163,800
3 N.Y. Mets WFAN (CBS Radio) 209,100 215,800 290,600
4 Detroit Tigers WXYT/WXYT-FM (CBS Radio) 199,700 201,200 180,600
5 Philadelphia Phillies WPHT/WIP-FM (CBS Radio) 169,400 187,300 160,500
6 Chicago Cubs WGN (Tribune) 138,000 184,900 215,400
7 Chicago White Sox WSCR (Clear Channel) 135,500 100,000 114,600
8 Seattle Mariners KIRO (Bonneville International) 120,800 101,000 95,000
9 St. Louis Cardinals
KMOX (CBS) 116,600 144,200 122,900
10 Cincinnati Reds WLW (Clear Channel) 114,800 112,000 127,700

* First year of new radio rights holder
Notes: Stations listed are AM frequency unless otherwise noted. Tigers and Phillies games are simulcast on two stations.
Source: Arbitron

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