Thursday, January 19, 2017

Detroit Radio: Report..Lions Goose WJR Ratings

Picking up the live play-by-play broadcast rights for Detroit Lions games this season goosed WJR 760 AM's overall listenership ratings at the expense of the station that used to air the games.

According to Crain's Detroit, WJR, the 50,000-watt news/talk station that secured the Lions rights under a five-year deal in late 2015, finished December as the third-ranked station in the market with a 6.7 rating.

At the same time, the former home of the Lions radio broadcasts, CBS Radio Inc.-owned 15,000-watt sports talk station WXYT 97.1 FM, ranked sixth with a 4.9 rating.

WXYT has long aired Detroit Tigers games, and led the market in September (7.7 rating) and October (7.5) as the team tried to make the postseason. Once baseball ended, listeners apparently switched to Atlanta-based Cumulus Media Inc.-owned WJR for the Lions (and possibly the Michigan State University football games it also broadcasts).

The overall market leader for November (6.8 rating) and December (7.1 rating) was CBS Radio-owned WOMC 104.3 FM, which began airing Christmas music in early November.

Financially, adding the Lions should help WJR maintain its position as the market's revenue leader: The station led all commercial radio stations in metro Detroit with $16.6 million in 2015 revenue, the most recent data available from Chantilly, Va.-based broadcast industry analysts BIA/Kelsey. WXYT was eighth with $9 million. The entire market generated $175.3 million in revenue for 2015, according to BIA/Kelsey's most recent numbers available.

WXYT's management knew a ratings slide would occur without the Lions to rely upon after baseball season, so it crafted a strategy to still discuss the team on game days in an attempt to retain some audience.

"From a numbers standpoint, we didn't miss a beat. We stayed up where we needed to be. We're still No. 2 on Sundays without the Lions," said WXYT Programming Director Jimmy Powers. The station runs live NFL-related content all days on game days, including pregame shows, an in-game "around-the-league" show from 1 to 4 p.m. that discusses highlights and game action, and a postgame show.

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