Monday, December 17, 2012

Is National Radio Business Going To Be Down In 2013?

Arbitron’s RADAR 113 report, with bullet points released over the last week covers March 31, 2011–March 28, 2012 using data from all 48 Arbitron PPM markets.

Today's headline:  weekly time spent listening to radio declines by 28 minutes. 
As Inside Radio reports:  "The average American aged 12+ spent 13 hours and 51 minutes listening to radio a week.  While that’s a healthy number – nearly two hours a day – it’s down 28 minutes a week from one year earlier: 14 hours and 19 minutes in Arbitron’s RADAR 109, which covered April 1, 2010–March 30, 2011.

In spite of the positive spin in the last week's press releases, ("adults aged 18 to 34 again shows the largest gain in weekly radio listeners, increasing by more than 600,000), more alarming are year-over-year declines among young adults.
  • Men 25-34 spent 51 minutes less with radio per week in RADAR 113 (15 hours) than in RADAR 109 (14 hours, 9 minutes)
  • TSL among women 25-34 also fell by a significant amount, from 12 hours, 55 minutes to 12 hours,
  • 13 minutes, a year-over-year drop of 42 minutes. 
  • Men 18-24 are spending 36 minutes less per week with radio, women
  • 18-24  are listening 38 minutes less. 
Demos with smaller declines than the 12+ average include women 35-54 (down 21 minutes), men 45-54 (down 17 minutes), women 45-54 (down 26 minutes), men 55-64 (down 15 minutes) men 65+ (down 26 minutes) and women 65+ (down 18 minutes).
  • Teen listening declined only eight minutes but the demo already had the lowest listening level of any: about eight hours a week for teenage boys and nine and a-half hours for girls. 
  • The biggest TSL surprise: a 43-minute weekly decline among women 55-64.
How can we be both up and down in the same demo?

Here's how:  since ARB as recently as their programming conference two weeks ago affirmed again that metered average time per listening occasion remains about 10 minutes regardless of city, format or country, weekly cume must be holding, but radio's DAILY cume, the most crucial success driver, appears to be down roughly 3.3% 12+. 

We won't fix this problem while cutting localism and local personalities. 

It's going to require increased engagement with local audiences, not less.

Radio stations which keep this in mind in their 2013 programming and marketing strategies are going to greatly out-perform "the average" ones.

If we continue to value our time based on cost-per point, using only automated online media-buying software, is anyone going to tell radio's story at the national agency level to counter that dip?

National and network business has been dicey enough over the last year for most radio companies making use of last year's stats!

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