Mike Francesa-Michael Kay is a real battle with a shrinking leader

While Mike Francesa remains the favorite to win the fall ratings book, Michael Kay’s show is challenging for sports radio afternoon supremacy with three innings on the board.

In the ultimate way stations judge themselves, the male 25-54 demographic, Francesa’s WFAN show finished second, with a 6.3 rating, compared to Kay’s 98.7 FM ESPN New York’s fourth at 5.5. Spanish music station WSKQ was first at 7.5.

Inside the numbers, it is neck and neck. While both Francesa and Kay averaged the same .6 rating for the quarter-hour ratings in 25-54, Kay beats Francesa 5.5 to 4.8 in the 25-59 male demo. Francesa’s audience skews older.

The above ratings only account for radio listeners, where Francesa has two signals, with 660 on AM and 101.9 on FM. Francesa had a .4 share streaming on WFAN.com.

He also has his own paid app, “Mike’s On,” which Francesa indicated last week may have more than 800 subscribers.

Kay’s show with Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg, meanwhile, can be heard on the YES Network, where it had a 0.24 household rating over the period, while Francesa is not on TV. ESPN just began recording streaming numbers, but not for this past month.

While Francesa is in a fight with Kay, the rest of FAN is beating its ESPN competition pretty handily. In the morning, “Boomer & Gio” (6.1) are in fourth compared to ninth-place “Golic and Wingo” (4.1). FAN’s “Benigno & Roberts” (5.4) are in sixth, while ESPN’s “Humpty & Canty” with Dave Rothenberg (3.2) are 12th.

“Carlin, Maggie & Bart” finished fourth with a 6.2 rating against Stephen A. Smith’s 1-3 p.m. program (3.8), which was 10th. CMB, whom Francesa replaced in the spring, gives Francesa a much stronger ratings lead-in than Kay has with Smith.

A year ago, with the Yankees making a run and Francesa in his faux farewell tour, Francesa had a 7 rating to Kay’s 5.2. So, Kay has come up a little to 5.5, while Francesa has fallen a bit to 6.3.

Still, Francesa is on top with six innings to play in this round.

Quick Clicks: The World Series broadcast was the Joe Buck show, and that’s a good thing. Buck is excellent. He nailed the 18th-inning walk-off by Max Muncy in Friday’s epic Game 3, putting an exclamation point on it with a subtle, “Night, Night,” to pay homage to the time of the game. His partner, John Smoltz, was fine but not spectacular, which made Buck lead a little more. Usually the analyst is the star on TV, but Fox makes it more a two-man game.

… That said, enough with the notion Buck doing the World Series and “Thursday Night Football” in one week is a Herculean feat. Yes, it is a lot and a bigger stage, but broadcasters like Kenny Albert, Ian Eagle, Mike Breen and Boomer Esiason — not to mention Marv Albert in his prime — have been doing stuff like five games in one week. Plus, Buck’s right-hand man, Steve Horn, provides Buck with a lot of the background work. … Speaking of working a lot of games and having endurance, John Sterling, 80, will call the Nets-Hawks game on Dec. 16. Sterling, the Yankees’ play-by-player, did games for the Hawks and Nets in the past. When he called Atlanta’s games, he used to say “Dominique is magnifique” when Dominique Wilkins would score.

Clicker Books: The column’s official book reviewer, my dad, Herb, has two critiques for the price of one. It is a matchup, if you will. Jeff Pearlman’s USFL book, “Football For A Buck” receives a 4.4 Clickers out of five, while Jane Leavy’s Babe Ruth tome, “The Big Fella,” picks up a 4.2 score from Papa Clicker.

Pearlman’s book is a fun read in detailing so many strange stories in the short history of the league. Besides highlighting players like Herschel Walker, Jim Kelly and Steve Young, Pearlman gets political, comparing how New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump said that fellow USFL owners would pay for Doug Flutie to President Trump’s claims that Mexico would pay for his wall. Meanwhile, Leavy’s book is more focused on Ruth’s off-the-field activities. The book’s final 100 pages, centered on the end of Ruth’s life, really finish strong, according to Papa Clicker.

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