Red Sox

Like the Red Sox, NESN ratings much improved this season

The ratings were nearly 100 percent better than in 2020, when the Red Sox went a dismal 24-36.

The Red Sox celebrated Sunday's victory over the Nationals, and NESN's ratings were a hit, too. NICK WASS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The 2021 Red Sox have been a considerable improvement than their 2020 version, winning 92 games, losing 70, and knocking out the Yankees in the Wild Card Game to advance to the American League Division Series.

Last season, the Red Sox went 24-36 in a dismal season abbreviated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It turns out NESN’s television ratings for its Red Sox broadcasts were much improved this season as well — in fact, they were nearly 100 percent better.

The 152 Red Sox game telecasts on the regional sports network averaged a 4.23 household rating. That is almost double last season’s 2.14 average rating. In 2019, the last full MLB season before this one, Red Sox games averaged a 5.25 rating on the network.


NESN saw particular growth this year among a younger demographic, though the overall rating isn’t enormous. The broadcasts averaged a 1.62 rating among adults ages 18-34, which was up 41 percent over last season and NESN’s highest in that demo since 2011.

The network also saw growth in the adults 25-54 demo (1.70 rating, up 80 percent over ‘20 and 19 percent over ‘19) and men 25-54 (2.16 rating, a 97-percent increase over last year and 10-percent from ‘19.)

NESN’s two highest-rated broadcasts of the season were, perhaps not surprisingly, the last two, when the Red Sox were in a multi-team chase for a wild-card spot. Their 5-3 win over the Nationals Oct. 2 earned a 7.27 rating, and the regular-season finale, a 7-5 win over the Nats, was a season-high 7.44.

Data on how NESN’s Red Sox ratings compare with regional sports outlets with local baseball broadcast rights in other markets is not yet available.

The Red Sox have drawn excellent numbers in the postseason. Their 6-2 win over the Yankees in the Wild Card Game, broadcasted on ESPN, got a huge 19.8 rating in Boston. Thursday’s ALDS opener, a 5-0 loss to the Rays, got a 10.4 local rating for the Fox Sports 1 broadcast.

Return manager

A management shift at Audacy’s Boston radio stations will add intrigue to the currently lopsided battle between its sports station, WEEI, and Beasley Media Group-owned, ratings-dominating The Sports Hub.


It also will require a tweak to an old idiom: “After you beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

Mike Thomas, who played a prominent role in building the Sports Hub lineup when it launched in August 2009 and essentially oversaw the station for 10 years before taking a job in Chicago in 2019, is coming back to Boston — as vice president and market manager for Audacy, WEEI’s parent company.

The spot opened up when Audacy promoted Tim Clarke, who had been overseeing WEEI among other duties since March, to a senior vice president role in digital audio content. The company announced the changes Thursday morning.

Mark Hannon, who as CBS Radio’s vice president and market manager in Boston helped build the Sports Hub with Thomas, is currently a regional president at Audacy. He ended up with Entercom (now Audacy) in the merger with CBS Radio (which owned the Sports Hub at the time) in 2017.

Hannon reached out to Thomas, a native Midwesterner who has been the market manager for Good Karma Brands since January 2020, about bringing him back to the Boston market with Audacy.

Thomas’s role will be to oversee Audacy’s six stations in the market, Big 103, Magic 106.7, Mix 104.1, WEEI-FM, WEEI-AM and WVEI. But in effect, a person who played an important management role in The Sports Hub surpassing WEEI in the ratings not long after the Hub’s launch is now in charge of building WEEI back.


Thomas will oversee a new program director, Jeff Rickard, who came to WEEI from a station in Indianapolis in August. In the recent Nielsen Audio Ratings, measuring the summer period, The Sports Hub finished first in the men 25-54 demographic with a 14.7 share. WEEI was sixth with a 4.2.

Do your research

Kudos to ESPN NBA color analyst Jeff Van Gundy, always a sublime off-the-cuff ranter, who had this to say about COVID-19 vaccine skeptics: “Just in general, you know the one that drives me crazy?’’ he said during Thursday night’s Heat-Rockets exhibition broadcast. ‘’[The phrase] ‘I’m doing my own research.’ What does that look like, you doing your own research? Are you doing studies yourself? Are you in the lab on a nightly basis? What are you doing? I don’t understand what that means, ‘I’m doing my own research.’ How about this? We’ve got really smart people — a lot smarter than anybody in the NBA — who have already done the research.’” Van Gundy should have a conversation with NBC Sports Boston’s Brian Scalabrine, who on his SiriusXM radio show has sounded an awful lot like a junior varsity Kyrie Irving lately when it comes to vaccinations.


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