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Broadcast sports: Twins should like Arbitron numbers more than KSTP

  • Article by: Judd Zulgad
  • Star Tribune
  • August 9, 2007 - 9:27 PM

The Twins couldn't be blamed if they did some celebrating after seeing the Arbitron numbers from their first full ratings book since moving from WCCO to KSTP. But that doesn't mean the folks at the Hubbard-owned radio station should be getting out the champagne glasses.

While games during the spring period (April, May and June) fired big numbers, the station didn't show substantial growth for other programming in its key demographic of people 25 to 54 years old. And that could be a problem if the trend continues.

Here's why: Under the terms of its four-year agreement with the Twins, KSTP is not only paying the club around $1 million per season, but the team also controls the majority of the ad sales for the game broadcasts, as well as the pre- and postgame. In other words, big ratings for Twins games means more money in the team's pockets.

KSTP's only real hope for making money on this deal is to show advertisers that the station's other programs are thriving. Todd Fisher, vice president and general manager of KSTP, is preaching patience.

"It would have been nice to see a big conversion of Twins listeners into our other shows, but we knew that wouldn't happen right away," he said. "But when you break the ratings out month-by-month and look at our other shows, they do grow from month one to month two to month three. In June, our growth was almost double what it was in the first month."

Some figures from the book:

• From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, when almost all programming is local, KSTP had a 3.0 share and placed 12th in the market. That was identical to its numbers last spring. Among men 25 to 54, the station's share in the same time period went down (4.6 and sixth in the market in 2006 to 3.8 and eighth this year).

• Here's one factoid that certainly had to catch the attention of those inside Hubbard headquarters. The morning show, which runs from 5:30 to 9 a.m., placed 14th in the market with a 1.3 share among people 25-54. One would assume listeners would leave their radios on 1500 AM after games and then flip on the station in the morning. That obviously didn't happen.

• Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's appearance from 9:30 to 10 a.m. on Sundays had a 1.6 share (12th in the market) in the 25-54 demographic and finished behind sports talk shows on WCCO (6.2) and KFAN (3.5).

• KSTP did see growth from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Sunday among both overall listeners 25 to 54 and men 25-54. The first number went from a 2.7 share to a 4.1 and the second from a 4.1 to a 5.3.

Part of the reason KSTP didn't get a big return from its other programming, Fisher said, was because so much focus was placed on making sure fans could find the Twins after the franchise had spent 46 years on WCCO. Not until the end of the book did KSTP turn its promotional efforts to its other shows.

The Twins, meanwhile, appeared to experience no ill effects from the move up the dial. Just the opposite. During the 7-10 p.m. time period Monday through Friday, when the team is usually playing, KSTP had a 13.4 share among adults 25-54 and an 18.3 share among men of the same age category. Both ranked No. 1 in the market. Last spring on WCCO, the same time periods had an 8.5 share and 11.7 share, respectively.

"[The ratings] dispel the notion that people weren't going to find the games on KSTP," Twins President Dave St. Peter said. "We're not surprised. We've long believed in the power of Twins baseball and think this is more an indication of the strength of the brand and soaring popularity of the team."

Fine-tuning

John Randle's mouth rarely stopped running during his 11 seasons with the Vikings. Of course, only a limited on-field audience had the opportunity to hear the commentary provided by the Pro Bowl defensive tackle. The audience will be much larger tonight as Randle serves as an analyst on the Vikings-St. Louis preseason telecast on KSTP (Ch. 5). The Vikings revealed Thursday that Randle will join their new preseason announcing team of Ari Wolfe and Mike Mayock. Steve LaCroix, Vikings vice president of sales and marketing, said having a three-man booth for the three exhibition games on KSTP always was the plan and that the team will have a different person with Vikings or Minnesota ties in the booth for the Aug. 25 game at Seattle and the Aug. 30 game against Dallas. No announcement has been made on those final two games.

David Schwartz has been hired by KARE (Ch. 11) to serve as a sports reporter and anchor. Schwartz, who at one time worked at a station in Bemidji, Minn., has been in Shreveport, La., since 2004. He will start Aug. 20.

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