WFAN’s Carton & Roberts take advantage of ESPN messy lineup

WFAN's Carton & Roberts take advantage of ESPN messy lineup

The setup of ESPN New York’s lineup is so poorly constructed that it is a gift to WFAN, Craig Carton and Evan Roberts.

“Carton & Roberts,” just a few months old, has taken advantage of it, making the battle for New York afternoon sports radio supremacy neck and neck and stream for stream.

What is clear is the trends favor “Carton & Roberts” potentially toppling “The Michael Kay Show” this winter book, which is the first time the two shows have gone head-to-head for a full three-month period. 

The way FAN looks at it, it already has the advantage with a 6.6-6.5 rating share among men 25-54, according to Nielsen Audio. 

(ESPN doesn’t count FAN’s streaming ratings in the battle because FAN sells its advertising separately so ESPN looks at it as if Kay is up 5.5-to-4.1 over C&R.)

Under FAN’s view, C&R is second to Kay’s third in the market. It should be noted we are at the three-innings mark into the winter game.

The overall setup of ESPN’s latest lineup seems to be inspired by Abbott and Costello, who maybe should pick up a shift as they might out-rate Max Kellerman.

Who’s on first? Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin? They’re on second.

Here is the mishmash of a schedule that ESPN puts out on 98.7 FM everyday Monday-through-Friday:

DiPietro, Canty & Rothenberg (5-8 a.m.)

Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin (8-10 a.m.)

Greeny (10-noon)

Bart and Hahn (noon-2 p.m.)

The Max Kellerman Show (2-3 p.m.)

The Michael Kay Show (3-7)

Don La Greca, Michael Kay and Peter Rosenberg of The Michael Kay Show
Don La Greca, Michael Kay and Peter Rosenberg of The Michael Kay Show
Jeff Skopin/ESPN

The Bristol-based decisions offer too many shows, especially national ones, that do not put the actual New York audience first. If ESPN cares about competing with 98.7 FM, it should localize and simplify.

FAN has three main shows, “Boomer and Gio” (6-10 a.m.), “Moose & Maggie” (10-2) and “Carton & Roberts” (2-7 p.m). You don’t have to think about what you are getting.

With the momentum of Kay, Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg taking down Mike Francesa in his final years and with Rick DiPietro, Chris Canty and Dave Rothenberg finding a rhythm, ESPN NY had been going in the right direction.  

Instead of using that wind at the back of its FM signal, ESPN in New York has taken a step back with its 1 millionth schedule, give or take, in its 17 years.

Who’s on second? Greenberg? No, he’s on third.

In the mornings, ESPN must decide if it wants to give DiPietro, Canty and Rothenberg four local hours to go head-to-head with FAN’s Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti from 6-10. 

Right now, it is not a fair fight, with FAN dominating; especially from 8-10 a.m., when “Boomer & Gio” goes against the national show of Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti. 

“Boomer & Gio” is second in the market after 106.7 FM (which is also first in afternoons). From 6-10, Boomer and Gio’s 6.9 rating more than doubles ESPN’s. 

From 5-8 a.m., ESPN’s DiPietro, Canty and Rothenberg have made a little noise with a 3.7 share. It’s a start. 

At 10 a.m., Greenberg is losing to FAN’s “Moose & Maggie,” 6.8 (third) to 2.5 (15th). Overall, when you include “Bart and Hahn” from noon-2, FAN basically maintains its numbers (6.6 to 3.3) while ESPN receives a little bump.

From noon-to-2 p.m., Bart Scott and Alan Hahn are much stronger on football and basketball as compared to baseball. They are doing mostly a New York show for a national audience. This is the New York Post, so the odd format of the program is Peoria’s problem.

What makes the least amount of sense is Kellerman’s one-hour show from 2-3 p.m. Kellerman is best on radio in an ensemble program. 

As a solo artist, he meanders and, though, he is from New York, his nationally-focused show is not built for it. 

Carton and Roberts crush Kellerman 9.1 to 2.2 in New York, giving FAN a huge head start in its race before Kay, La Greca and Rosenberg even pick up their earphones.

Is the Kay Show first?

To count radio streaming or not to count streaming is one of the great questions of our times, and has been raging since Francesa’s crown became wobbly and fell off.

The bottom line, the Nielsen ratings aren’t perfect however you slice it. They only count 25-54 year-old males, which is outdated, but it is how advertising is sold. So we could be headed for another streaming debate in afternoons.

What is of importance are the trends. FAN wins all day, making the Kay’s Show’s job even harder to hold on.

Three innings into the winter book, “Carton & Roberts” is well positioned. ESPN has to figure out if it really wants to play in New York sports radio or not.


About Raymond Hobson

With a knack for storytelling, Raymond started working with News Conduct a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports niche, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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