In the bitter ratings battle between Sportsradio 94.1 WIP's Josh Innes and 97.5 The Fanatic's Mike Missanelli, the new fight appears to be over digital listeners.
According to numbers obtained by Philly.com, Innes and co-hosts Spike Eskin and Hollis Thomas beat Missanelli during the October ratings period (Sept. 10 to Oct. 7), finishing 2nd overall in the market with an 8.4 share in the coveted men-25-54 demographic. Missanelli ended up in 3rd place with a 8.1 share.
But Missanelli was able to duplicate the high ratings from digital listeners he received last month, earning an impressive 1.8 share, dwarfing the 0.2 share Innes earned. Combining the two numbers would put Missanelli in first place among all listeners in the demographic for his time slot.
"More people chose to listen to us. It's that simple," Missanelli said. "The people have spoken."
Traditionally, radio stations count only the terrestrial ratings numbers to determine things such as advertising rates and bonus offers. But the growth in online radio is quickly changing the market, and audience trends clearly point to listeners who increasingly want control of when and how they listen to programs.
"Advertisers are after an audience, and they see digital radio as a platform that reaches an engaged user who can be precisely targeted by geography, demographics, social connections, listening behavior and other critical metrics" was the conclusion of a report by market research firm eMarketer.
Innes doesn't disagree that digital listeners are important, but thinks streaming ratings estimates are useless.
"You can see how many people listen to a stream at a given time. You don't need an estimate," Innes said. "I'm beating him using the same system he used to beat the previous show. He is reaching. Will he hold up his promise to quit if he's still losing to me after the season?"
The Fanatic sustained its impressive digital ratings from last month for all three of its daytime slots, making the ratings battle a closer fight.
For instance, WIP's Angelo Cataldi earned a 7.9 share during the 6-10 a.m. time slot, good enough for 2nd place in the market. The Fanatic's Anthony Gargano came in third with a 6.9 share.
But Gargano also earned a 1.0 digital share, compared to Cataldi's 0.1. So if you combine the two numbers, Gargano is neck-and-neck with Cataldi in terms of overall ratings, giving the ratings champ his first serious challenge during his 20-year tenure at WIP.