Mike Francesa returned from vacation to WFAN on Monday and quickly took aim at his competition at ESPN Radio, saying reports he had lost the most recent ratings race to Michael Kay were “fictitious” and “fabricated.”
“It’s just a lie,” Francesa said on the air.
ESPN New York did not claim to have beaten Francesa for the entire spring ratings book, which covered March 30 through June 21, but Kay did boast in a series of tweets on Wednesday about coming closer than ever for the previous quarter and also about edging Francesa for June alone, 5.2 percent to 5.1 percent among men ages 25-54.
“It is a 12-week competition,” Francesa said. “There’s a winner, there’s a loser. I lost the book in the afternoon [to WLTW, 106.7 FM], and I’m not happy about it . . . It was a collapse on my part and a bad job by me.”
Francesa finished second in the market from 1 to 6:30 p.m. and fourth from 3 to 6:30, when he is head-to-head against Kay, who finished sixth.
Francesa said he “blew it” by losing to WLTW after leading the book in April and May, but emphasized that he beat ESPN comfortably for the entirety of his show.
Still, Kay did narrow the ratings gap against Francesa to its smallest margin to date, 5.7 to 4.9, when the shows were head-to-head.
The summer ratings generally are discounted because many hosts spend much of the time on vacation. That means Francesa has one full ratings book left, in the fall, before departing WFAN on Dec. 15.
“I’m 48-0; they get one more shot,” he said. “Would 48-1 bother me? Yeah, it probably would, because I’d like to go undefeated. But if I don’t, it’s not going to be the end of the world. But the bottom line is I will do my best to finish first like I always have. But don’t tell lies and say you beat me in a book when you didn’t . . . Here’s what they did: They lost the game, 48-20, and won the fourth quarter, 10-9, and they declared victory. It doesn’t work that way.”