August 5, 2010: Baseball, like all other sports, continues to expand the ways in which it reaches and connects with fans and consumers, including TV, Internet and mobile devices. Sometimes lost in the commotion is the original connector: Radio.
With advertisers looking ahead to the MLB playoffs and World Series, media and marketing research firm Arbitron Inc. has released the first mid-season report of radio audience listening for baseball. The Mid-Season 2010 Arbitron Sports Report: PPM Radio Listening for Pro Baseball covers in-game, play-by-play estimates for the first half of the 2010 MLB season (April 4, to June 23, 2010). It covers 28 teams in 25 markets where the company's Portable People Meter service has been commercialized.
"As advertisers look to capitalize on this year's pennant race, professional baseball on the radio delivers large numbers of listeners for every game," Chris Meinhardt, sports manager for Columbia, Md.-based Arbitron, said in a statement. "Arbitron's Mid-Season PPM Radio Listening for Pro Baseball reports the average game audience for each team." These reports are made available to subscribing agencies, advertisers, stations and teams, according to Arbitron.
According to the report, the top 15 teams individually average more than 176,100 listeners per game in their home market. The New York Yankees top the list with an average of 441,000 listeners (ages 6 and up) per game on WCBS-AM, followed by crosstown rival New York Mets with an average of 368,500 listeners per game on WFAN-AM.
The top five also includes the Chicago Cubs (259,700 average on WGN-AM0, the Detroit Tigers (193.400 on WXYT-AM and FM) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (166.600 on KLAA-AM and KSPN-AM).
In the key demographic of male listeners ages 14-54, the Cincinnati Reds top the list with a 25 share on station WLW-AM, followed by the Detroit Tigers (21.3 share). St. Louis Cardinals (19.1 share on KTRS-AM), Minnesota Twins (17 share on KSTP-AM) and the Atlanta Braves (11.7 share on WCNN-AM and WNNX-FM).
Even with TV and Internet, every MLB team has a flagship radio station in 2010. Games are also heard nationally on ESPN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite.
"Those teams with play-by-play broadcasts have believed for years radio was an integral part of a fan's experience," said Meinhardt. "Now, thanks to the level of audience detail provided by the PPM ratings service we can see that passion and loyalty quantified."
The first MLB game broadcast on radio was the Pittsburgh Pirates playing host to the Philadelphia Phillies at Forbes Field on Aug. 5, 1921 (happy 89th anniversary). Such legendary baseball broadcasters as Red Barber, Mel Allen, Harry Caray, Russ Hodges, Ernie Harwell ad Vin Scully established themselves on radio. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello performed their classic baseball routine, "Who's On First" thousands of times on the radio before bringing it to the big screen in the movie, The Naughty Nineties.