Craig Carton on air on the first "Carton & Roberts"...

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

WFAN’s Craig Carton and Evan Roberts edged ESPN New York’s "The Michael Kay Show" in the programs’ first full ratings book going head-to-head, according to Nielsen Audio data released on Monday.

From 3 to 7 p.m., when the afternoon drive time shows overlapped, Carton and Roberts finished third overall in the New York market among men ages 25-54, averaging 5.3% of those listening in that demographic.

Kay finished fourth, averaging 4.8% for the book, which ran from Jan. 7 through March 31.

The result seemed to validate WFAN’s decision to bring back Carton after a three-year absence, including a year in prison after he was convicted on federal fraud charges.

Kay beat Mike Francesa for the first time in the fall of 2019, then grew his lead in 2020 against Roberts and Joe Benigno. Carton returned in November of 2020 and first went past Kay in the ratings in January. Their margin of victory over ESPN increased in each of the first three months of this year.

ESPN Radio New York's Michael Kay, left, and Don La...

ESPN Radio New York's Michael Kay, left, and Don La Greca. Credit: ESPN Images/Joe Faraoni

The data, which for both stations includes over-the-air and streaming audiences, was obtained by Newsday from an industry source.

Both stations traditionally judge themselves by the men ages 25-54 demographic favored by advertisers, but when all listeners age 6 and up are included, Roberts and Carton beat Kay’s show by a wider margin, 2.9 to 1.8.

For the last three days of the winter book, Kay’s show began at 2 p.m., its new start time. So moving forward it will be possible to assess the shows with a longer overlap period, now 2 to 6:30 p.m.

For the entirety of Carton & Roberts’ 2 to 7 p.m. show in the spring, they finished second overall in the market with 5.9% of the listening audience in the key demo.

Kay’s radio audience data does not include his YES Network simulcast. Starting on May 3, Roberts and Carton also will add a simulcast, with SNY carrying their show from 4 to 6 p.m.

In the morning, WFAN’s Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti finished first overall with 7.6% of men 25-54, far ahead of ESPN’s 17th place and 2.6% from 6 to 10 a.m., during which ESPN airs two hours of local programming and two national.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., WFAN’s Maggie Gray and Marc Malusis had a strong book, finishing second overall at 5.8, while ESPN programming in that time slot finished 15th at 2.6.

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