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WFAN's Craig Carton and Evan Roberts cut into ESPN New York's 'The Michael Kay Show' ratings lead

Craig Carton on air on the first "Carton

Craig Carton on air on the first "Carton & Roberts" afternoon drive show on WFAN in the station's Manhattan studios on Nov. 9, 2020.  Credit: Entercom/WFAN 101.9 FM/660 AM

ESPN New York’s "The Michael Kay Show" held off WFAN’s new afternoon program for the first full month of the stations’ renewed drive time ratings battle, but Craig Carton helped WFAN significantly cut into Kay’s margin.

For the period covering Nov. 5 through Dec. 2, ESPN ranked second overall in the market with 6.5% of the listening audience among men ages 25-54 from 3 to 7 p.m., while WFAN was fifth at 5.4, according to data from Nielsen Audio.

That was a smaller gap than in the prior month from Oct. 8 to Nov. 4, during which ESPN had a winning margin of 7.2 to 4.7 against WFAN’s Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno.

Carton’s impact was even more evident when comparing WFAN to ESPN for the totality of Carton’s and Roberts’ 2 to 7 p.m. shift.

Over those five hours, WFAN averaged 5.8% of the audience, third-best in the market, compared to 5.7 for ESPN New York, which ranked fourth. (Kay’s show does not start until 3 p.m.)

Carton did not start at the FAN until Nov. 9, so the first two days of the monthly ratings period still featured Benigno with Roberts.

Both stations judge themselves primarily by the men ages 25-54 demographic that is attractive to advertisers, but WFAN led ESPN among all adult men from 3 to 7 p.m. from Nov. 5 to Dec. 2.

The first month of data suggests "The Michael Kay Show" is an entrenched, successful show that will not be easy for Carton and Roberts to unseat. But Carton’s arrival at least has WFAN headed in the right direction in advance of the shows’ first full quarterly competition this winter.

For the full autumn ratings book, which covers Sept. 10 to Dec. 2, WFAN maintained its longtime dominance over ESPN from 6 to 10 a.m. Gregg Giannotti and Boomer Esiason were first among all stations in the market with 6.5% of the audience and ESPN finished 14th at 3.1 with a new national morning show featuring Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., WFAN’s Maggie Gray and Marc Malusis ranked third with 5.7% of the audience. ESPN was ninth at 3.8%.

New York Sports