Nielsen Radio: Steady as she goes


The Nielsen Company has delivered the second round of data from its “sticker diary” radio ratings service. Only two markets are signed up for twice per year sampling, but the ratings company is hailing the stability of the results for Huntsville, AL and Shreveport, LA.

“Out of the gate we said that radio was a very predictable industry. People are loyal to a repertoire of between two and three stations. That’s why we opted for large, reliable sample sizes in the Spring sweep,” Lorraine Hadfield, Nielsen’s Managing Director for Global Radio Audience Measurement.

But for those two markets, Huntsville and Shreveport, the key clients for the new Nielsen Radio service – Cumulus in both markets and Clear Channel in Huntsville – determined that twice per year radio ratings were essential for local ad buyers. So, with two ratings books under its belt in the two markets, Nielsen has declared consistency in AQH ratings across various demos, as well as in Cumes, TSL, dayparts and all weekday/weekend shows.

AQH shares were little changed from book to book. In Huntsville, Clear Channel’s Country WDRM-FM remained in the #1 spot 12+, followed by two Cumulus stations, News/Talk WVNN-AM & FM and CHR WZYP-FM. Broadcast One’s Urban Contemporary WEUP-FM/WEUZ-FM moved up to #4 from #6, but the three stations ranked #4-6 remained closely packed by share percentage. Black Crow’s Rock WRTT-FM remained in the #5 spot, while NCA Inc’s AC WRSA-FM dropped to #6 from #4.

In Shreveport, two Cumulus stations switched positions at the top, with Urban AC KVMA-FM ahead of Urban Contemporary KMJJ-FM in the Nielsen Fall book. Access.1’s Urban AC KDKS-FM gained share, but remained at #3. Gap Broadcasting’s News/Talk KEEL-AM remained in the #5 spot. Then Access.1’s Urban Contemporary KBTT-FM bumped Cumulus’ Country KRMD-FM out of the #6 position.

There were no format changes in either market between the Fall and Spring surveys. “I think that’s the point. If there is a format change, one would hope to see a difference,” Hadfield noted.

As with the Spring survey, Nielsen found that diarykeepers used the included stickers for most of their reported listening. For the two markets, “sticker stations” accounted for 93.2% of all reported listening in the Fall survey, up slightly from 92% in the Spring. Write-in broadcast stations were a mere 0.3%, down from 2%. Reported satellite/Internet radio listening rose to 6.5% from 6% in the previous survey.

We wondered whether the stations included on the page of stickers in each market changed. Hadfield explained that stations are dropped from the sheet of stickers if they don’t meet minimum reporting levels. Thus, the page of stickers sent to diarykeepers in Huntsville had 75 stations in the Spring survey and 71 in the Fall. Shreveport had stickers for 52 stations in the Spring and 51 in the Fall.

The average number of stations tuned to per week was pretty consistent. For all diaries, the average was 2.3 stations in Huntsville, compared to 2.4 in the Spring survey. In Shreveport the average was 2.5% in the Fall and 2.4% in the Spring.

Cell phone only (CPO) households listened to slightly more different stations on average. In Huntsville it was 2.6 in both surveys. In Shreveport it was 2.7 in the Spring and 2.8 in the Fall. The percentage of CPO households in the Huntsville sample was 13.2% in the Spring and 12.9% in the Fall. In Shreveport it was 14.1% in the Spring and 11.2% in the Fall.

RBR-TVBR observation: Huntsville and Shreveport are four book per year Arbitron markets. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey had complained about book-to-book fluctuations when he replaced Arbitron with Nielsen in 51 markets, so we looked for 12+ share fluctuations in the publicly released numbers. The difference that stands out between the two competing rating services is that in Huntsville WVTT took a dive in the Arbitron Spring book, then regained its #2 position in the Summer book. In Shreveport, the battle of the big three Urban and Urban AC stations produced somewhat different rankings, while the three stations remained well ahead of the rest of the pack for several Arbitron books. The official Arbitron Fall books for those two markets have not yet been issued.