Saturday, October 07, 2006

New Arbitron Survey, Same Results (mostly)

The new national audience estimates for public radio are coming out. The overall Average Quater-Hour (AQH) audience remains in decline. That's the average audeince. So is overall Share of audience.

Once again, the decline is not large but it continues a downward trend from Spring 2003. The Cume (weekly) audience is up a bit.

The temptation will be to take encouragement from the increase in Cume and ignore the drop in AQH and Share. But this combination over numbers points to another drop in Loyalty. That would not be good.

All indications remain that the decrease in listening to public radio is not because of satellite radio or podcasting or some other new media.

The loss of Share means public radio is losing ground in the radio marketplace. A decline in Loyalty, if further analysis shows that's the case, means that public radio listeners are still using the radio but choosing to spend an increasing amount of the radio listening time with commercial broadcasters.

8 Comments:

Blogger Aaron Read said...

I think I've asked this before, so forgive me if my memory's failed me...

Do these trends account for things like sports broadcasts? Every radio station in Boston takes a big backseat to WEEI every summer thanks to the Sox games. Sometimes in fall, too. :-)

It'd also be interesting to see if public radio's losses are going to Air America at all. I imagine that'd be near-impossible to realistically track...but if it's true, then I'd opine that's not nearly as bad as, say, losing listeners to the local Top40 station.

12:09 PM  
Blogger RadioSutton said...

Air America hurt a few public radio stations but its not in enough markets to cause the national dip. Sports might be making a tiny dent. But more than likely, this is more a case of listeners drifting away rather than being pulled away. That's what it looks like in the data I'm seeing.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Eliot Landrum said...

Do you know if there has been any research yet into why this is happening? I kind of wonder if the content is what is causing the drift. I know from my experience, as soon as news article about Iraq comes on, I flip it over to music. I just don't want to hear about it anymore. I know it's horrible, but that's what I do anyway. I'd like to find out if that's the case for others as well.

10:55 PM  
Blogger RadioSutton said...

Don't think that level of research has been done on the news programs, but music stations are losing audience too. So it's not just a news issue.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The total number of listeners (cume)is up, but the number of listeners tuned into public radio at any one time is down (AQH and share).

Who's tuning out? What demo shows shows the biggest drop in "loyalty?" Is it loss by attrition, i.e., age? Do all public radio formats show this trend, or just some?

On the flip side, could the cume figures indicated public radio is enjoying a bump in audience sharing--listeners migrating from commercial stations for NPR "branded" elements like news?

6:02 PM  
Blogger RadioSutton said...

Nothing I've seen suggests that the loss of Loyalty is unique to one demo or format. Figuring out what's going on with Cume is a little more tricky.

People often think of Cume as the station's total audience, but it is not. It is an estiamte of the station's average weekly audience. The annual number of listeners to any station is much larger, perhaps twice as large.

So "Lost" weekly Cume doesn't mean they are gone forever and "Gained" weekly Cume doesn't mean brand new listeners to the station. It could, and probably does, mean that listeners increased or decreased their overall Loyalty to the extent that the now appear or disappear from the weekly Cume.

Think about public radio's audience growth after the first gulf war and 9/11. No advertising yet instant Cume growth. How did that happen?

People who knew about public radio and used it very little -- weekly Loyalty of zero but perhaps "monthly Loyalty" of 10% --started using public radio weekly. Weekly Cume goes up but they are not "new to public radio" listeners.

This is the problem with focusing on the size of the audience rather than listeners' behavior. The metrics that give us insight to behavior -- how listeners respond to what we program and how we promote -- are far more useful that weekly counts of listeners.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is the notion that Loyalty to public radio is in decline a conclusion being reached by looking "weekly counts," i.e. AQH and cume, or by the metrics that examine behavior? What is the methodology of these behavioral studies and what do they tell us?

1:49 PM  
Blogger RadioSutton said...

About Loyalty: Go to this lin, scroll down to Loyalty, and click on the link.

http://www.aranet.com/2do/22.htm

4:23 PM  

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