3 APR 12

Opening Day, Cume-ing Soon!

Jon Miller

Jon Miller  |  Director of Programming Services

This is one of the best weeks of the year for sports in America.

Between last night’s NCAA Basketball Championship, The Masters which begins on Thursday, and the opening of the 2012 Major League Baseball season, the transition from winter to spring feels official now.

Opening day always generates a lot of buzz around the country with fans debating things like whether their team has what it takes to contend this year, how high-profile free agents will perform, and which teams will be left standing in October when we’re reaching for our warm jackets once again.

Radio has always played an important role in bringing baseball to the fans, and even with an expanded array of media options available to listeners, research shows that the medium continues to be one of the most popular ways to catch a game when you can’t actually be in the stands eating a hot dog.

So, we have a burning question for you to ask this year, too: How much new audience will I see if I carry an MLB team?

The answer: It varies widely and depends on the size of your market, fan interest, team performance, and other unique factors.

In search of some empirical evidence, we dug into eight flagship stations around the country using last season’s PPM ratings. This is by no means an official study—just a handful of markets plucked from the data and examined—but it should give us an idea of what happens to Cume levels when baseball comes back. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, St. Louis, Dallas, and San Francisco full-week numbers made up our sample, and we compared audience to the month immediately prior. Here’s what we found:

  • Weekly Cume (P 6+) increased 65% during the first PPM month (April) of 2011 MLB season.
  • Daily Cume (P 6+) increased 46% during that first month as well.

It’s clear that in these markets, baseball is a large draw to the station. Furthermore, during the 2011 season, the Arbitron Custom Sports department tracked how much audience came to flagship stations ONLY for the in-game broadcasts: about 20% on average. In other words, 20% of the station’s listeners to play-by-play tuned in ONLY for the game and were not listening to the station at other times during the week.

The challenge then for programmers moving forward is how to convert that new audience into devoted, day-by-day listeners—not an easy task when the rest of the market is busy scheming about how to steal them back.


The Programming Services Team intended that last pun, and they can be reached at programming@arbitron.com.