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Here Are The NFL Radio Broadcasts That Ruled Week 1 Of The Season.


Last week, Inside Radio exclusively reported new data from Nielsen showing that NFL games broadcast on the radio attract TV-like numbers with audiences so large that they outperform the top-rated stations in many markets. With the release of the September PPM ratings starting today, we now have the first look at radio numbers from the 2023 NFL season, starting with the top 10 team broadcasts from the NFL’s opening weekend.


Ranked by the core men 25-54 demo, the Thursday night opener Sept. 7 in Kansas City between Patrick Mahomes and the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs versus Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions drove top shares in both markets in spite of the late start time (8:20pm ET). Audacy country “106.5 The Wolf” WDAF-FM is the Chiefs radio flagship; sports sister “97.1 The Ticket” WXYT-FM anchors Lions games. “This is unusual considering that later start times usually have lower listening levels,” says Nielsen Senior VP/Sales Director John Snyder. “But the NFL is unusual in so many ways in our culture, and this speaks to the power of the local broadcasts even during a marquee Thursday night telecast.”


Moreover, the Chiefs numbers in the Lions upset victory were 20 share points higher than the Chiefs blowout win over the Arizona Cardinals during week one of the 2022 NFL season, while the Lions 2023 radio broadcast held flat with its narrow loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in opening week last year.


In another standout from NFL week one radio ratings, the Cleveland Browns trouncing over the division rival Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Sept. 10 also drove top 10 shares in both markets, with Cleveland finishing with the fourth-highest share of any team. Under a long-term partnership between the team, Audacy and Good Karma Brands, Browns games air in Cleveland on Audacy sports “92.3 The Fan” WKRK-FM, classic rock sister WNCX (98.5) and Good Karma Brands sports “850 ESPN” WKNR. And the later start time (4:25pm ET) for the New England Patriots, anchored by Beasley Media Group’s “98.5 The Sports Hub” WBZ-FM, and the Eagles (Audacy “Sports Radio 94” WIP-FM) didn’t damper the numbers in either of those markets, either.


Snyder notes that six of the top 10 highest-rated teams faced off against another team that also finished in the top 10.


With the success of football broadcasts mostly focused on TV, where they consistently occupy the majority of top-rated programs, Snyder suggests a change in thinking about how radio is measured – which is by daypart, as opposed to program-focused TV – would show similar dominance by the audio broadcasts of games. “Just because a fan can’t be staring into a screen during game time doesn’t mean he or she isn’t following along,” Snyder says. “And if broadcast radio pivoted to selling shows rather than dayparts, it's a safe bet that like TV, the top-rated shows would largely consist of play-by-play broadcasts.”

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