It’s radio war.
“Whatever metric you want to use here, we kick your ass,” ESPN Radio New York’s Michael Kay said Monday while delivering an instant rebuttal to WFAN’s Mike Francesa and ratcheting up the animosity over the disputed Winter 2019 ratings book battle between the two stations and hosts.
“You can put whatever spin that you want to put on it. Any kind of spin you want. We’re very content with where we are. We won. We celebrated, we had cake, had a little champagne, and we laughed. Because finally, the peashooters won. … The industry knows you’re losing it. The industry knows you lost this book. … Move aside, because we kicked your ass. I feel pity for you.”
In case you’ve been under a rock: Kay’s show finished ahead of Francesa’s show, 5.9 to 5.5, in the key men 25-54 demographic according to Nielsen Audio’s traditional over-the-air metric for the most recent ratings period. But ESPN runs the same ads on its traditional radio broadcast as it does its online stream broadcast, so Kay’s ratings are rolled into one number.
WFAN, on the other hand, sells streaming ads separate. So Francesa has two ratings numbers – his over-the-air number (5.5) and his stream number (0.7). When those two are added together – just as ESPN Radio New York’s two figures are – Francesa beats Kay, 6.2 to 5.9.
Francesa says that’s the official number. Kay says it’s not. And away we have gone.
“There’s one way that you keep score in radio: The Nielsen ratings. Now all of a sudden, streaming comes in,” Kay said, adding that a “clerical error” with streaming data actually kept his show with co-hosts Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg from beating Francesa in the last ratings book of 2018, presumably in the traditional metric.
Kay, who said he had “utmost respect” for Francesa in ESPN’s statement declaring its ratings win, then kept going.
“Scream all you want. Say you’re going to send us a prize, whatever you want, bud. If you can’t accept defeat, that shows how miserable you are in victory,” he said in a response to Francesa’s “fake news” attack on the ratings win claim that led Rosenberg to make a thinly-veiled comparison between Francesa and President Donald Trump.
“I’m going to tell you one thing, Mike: You’ve had an iconic career. Now, you’re embarrassing yourself,” Kay added. “People in the industry are laughing at you. And one other thing: Do you realize that there are people at your station that are texting me, congratulating me? That’s how much people want you to lose. And they finally got their way. You lost. We won.”
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