Category: Analysis

Has Pandemic-Related Listening Peaked?

| June 30, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Radio’s roughly mid-March through June COVID-19 coverage has at least one thing in common with the novel virus itself: More questions are raised about each than we have answers.

In a matter of just several months, the number of Americans who have perished owing to the widespread coronavirus is rapidly hurtling toward 130,000. It is absolutely numbing that some medical experts are now upwardly revising USA fatalities to a quarter of a million by the end of the year, as each new day sets a record for reported cases..

The nation’s unemployment rate has soared to double-digits – those filing for claims continues at a staggering rate. The economy has taken a substantial hit, and millions of Americans continue to institute self-imposed quarantine practices.

Heretofore seldom-used expressions in our country such as “stay-in-place” and “flattening the curve” are recited daily, as have “returning back to normal,” and  adjusting to life in the “new normal.”

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Coronavirus’ Cume Factor (Part Two)

| June 25, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Cume, the Rodney Dangerfield stat of the ratings world, is the focal point of our expanded coverage of radio listening habits during the May 2020 survey period (April 23 – May 20).

Posted yesterday (Wednesday, 6/24), our previous cume-centered piece dealt with news-formatted and sports talk stations.

Now, news/talk takes center stage in this follow-up overview of a sweep in which the singular national conversation was, once again, COVID-19.

All commercial, English-language news/talk stations registering at least a .1 (6+) in a PPM-surveyed market in the May 2020 report automatically qualify to be included in the below-listed breakouts.

Nielsen Audio only releases audience estimates for stations subscribing to its services. As a result, ratings stats in this analysis are limited to outlets paying that company for its information.

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Coronavirus’ Cume Factor (Part One)

| June 24, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — When someone quotes or inquires about the ratings status of a particular format or an individual station, the almost universal response is to cite the AQH share.

While cume numbers haven’t necessarily become a complete afterthought, they undoubtedly take a backseat to share.

As the coronavirus crisis continues to grip the nation, it’s time to revisit the sometimes-forgotten element of cume and examine its performance among spoken-word stations during the pandemic.

In the first of a two-part series addressing cume, we will focus on news, and sports talk facilities; part two with deal entirely with news/talk.

A top 20 ranking (May 2020, 6+) is the inclusion threshold for the news, and sports talk breakouts that appear below.

Nielsen Audio only releases audience estimates for stations subscribing to its services. As a result, ratings stats in this analysis are limited to outlets paying that company for its information.

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COVID-19’s Effect on Spoken-Word Listening

| June 23, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Thorough overviews have recently been posted for news stations (last Wednesday, 6/17); sports talk (last Thursday, 6/18); and commercial, English-language news/talk (this past Monday, 6/22).

Our ratings coverage is being further enhanced during the coronavirus crisis as we assess overall radio listening – and spoken-word, specifically.

Noted below are news/talk stations that appear in any PPM-market with at least a .1 (May 2020, 6+).

Meanwhile, a top 20 ranking (May 2020, 6+) is the inclusion threshold for news; sports talk; and public radio news/talk facilities.

Nielsen Audio only releases audience estimates for stations subscribing to its services. As a result, ratings stats in this analysis are limited to outlets paying that company for its information.

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May 2020 PPM Analysis: News/Talk

| June 22, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES —  A comprehensive overview of news/talk concludes our four-part series of May 2020 ratings recaps.

Included in this detailed synopsis are all commercial, English-language news/talk outlets (including online streams, if applicable) that appeared in any of Nielsen Audio’s 48 PPM-markets during the May 2020 ratings period (April 23 – May 20).

Slightly more than one of every three news/talk stations improve or hold steady April 2020 – May 2020 (35%, 6+), versus just 12.5% for news stations, and a very impressive 75% for sports talk.

These stats compare to news/talk’s 78% (March 2020 – April 2020, 6+); 65% (news); and 22% (sports talk).

As far as May 2019 – May 2020 stats are concerned, 69% of news outlets and 65% of news/talkers post year-to-year gains; conversely, 65% of sports talk stations experience year-to-year attrition.

By way of perspective, the March – April percentages were 82% (news);  73% (news/talk); and 82% (sports talk).

Unless otherwise noted, information for each news/talk station and stream was factored into all of our highlighted charts.

Nielsen Audio only releases audience estimates for facilities that subscribe to its services. Owing to that reason, ratings stats in this exclusive analysis are limited to stations that pay Nielsen Audio for its data.

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May 2020 PPM Analysis: Urban AC

| June 19, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Each month, our extensive ratings recaps focus on three spoken-word genres and one music-intensive format.

In our third installment of May 2020 ratings overviews, urban AC takes center stage representing that latter category.

This summary is comprised of PPM-market urban ACs that rank in the top 20 (6+) in the May 2020 sweep, which covered April 23 – May 20.

Nielsen Audio only releases audience estimates for facilities that subscribe to its services.

Owing to that reason, ratings stats in this exclusive analysis are limited to stations that pay Nielsen Audio for its data.

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May 2020 PPM Analysis: Sports Talk

| June 18, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — The second in our four-part series of May 2020 PPM overviews is an all-encompassing examination of the sports talk format.

The following scoreboards are comprised of sports talk facilities that rank in the top 20 (6+) in any of the 48 PPM-markets during the May 2020 ratings period, which covered April 23 – May 20.

Ratings information in this exclusive analysis is limited to sports talk properties that subscribe to Nielsen Audio’s audience estimates.

Coronavirus-related challenges affecting sports talk facilities include the fact that the NBA and NHL seasons were put on hold several months ago. After starting exhibition contests on schedule, MLB pulled the plug in mid-March and the official season has yet to get underway.

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May 2020 PPM Analysis: The News Format

| June 17, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — The following overview of news stations initiates our thorough four-part series of May 2020 ratings summaries.

Whereas in the highly unusual statistical oddity from the March 2020 sweep in which every news station meeting our ratings criteria managed to post a 6+ improvement, all but two eligible news outlets experienced some degree of erosion in the May 2020 survey period (April 23 – May 20).

As noted this time last month, 82% of our panel registered April 2019 – April 2020, 6+ increases; that compares to 69% notching May 2019 – May 2020 gains.

Entercom owns all but three stations listed in this format analysis.

Non-Entercom all-news operations in this report are iHeartMedia Boston’s news – talk hybrid WBZ-AM (also listed in Providence); Hubbard Broadcasting Washington, DC’s WTOP-FM; and Sinclair Broadcast Group Seattle’s KOMO.

Ratings stats in this exclusive analysis are limited to stations paying Nielsen Audio for its data.

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April 2020 PPM Analysis: A Sweep Unlike Any Other

| June 3, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Reflective of the unique nature of what has become the “new normal” owing to coronavirus’ spread, the April 2020 ratings period had more than its share of significant twists and turns.

With COVID-19 dominating all media outlets and kitchen-table conversations across the country, this very well might have been the most anticipated sweep since electronic measurement became radio ratings currency.

It differed from the highly-precarious annual “Holiday” ratings period on a number of fairly clear-cut levels, not the least of which is the divergence between pleasant family memories contrasted against newfound angst regarding a deadly virus.

Past has definitely been prologue that stations playing all-Christmas music in a “Holiday” sweep will display sizeable upticks in that period and, in virtually 100% of the time, chalk up (by far) their best stat of the ratings calendar. It’s not uncommon for all-Christmas music stations to double or triple their 6+-stats as dozens of such outlets touch double-digits (6+), and we’ve even witnessed the shattering of the 20-share level (6+).

There is a fixed time for the programming strategy – usually a week or two before Thanksgiving and running through Christmas Day. The outcome can be accurately predicted as much as nine months in advance.

Absolutely gaudy figures we are accustomed to seeing from music-intensive stations entrenched in playing holiday hits did not surface – for the most part – from spoken-word stations in April 2020.

One barometer though of a significant station shift in the electronic-measurement age is a sweep-to-sweep fluctuation in excess of one full-share.

To put things in the most vivid perspective: There were nearly four times as many of these swings (April 2020, 6+) as were registered one year ago (April 2019).

Open for debate is when the coronavirus should have been taken seriously. It’s worth remembering that the sitting POTUS was impeached by Congress in December 2019 and acquitted by the Senate on February 5, 2020. A fatality reported by Washington State officials later that month (2/29) was initially thought to be the earliest U.S. coronavirus-related death (although it’s now believed that at least two others died from the illness several weeks earlier).

Given that the final date of the April 2020 sweep was April 22, the just-concluded ratings period would mirror roughly two months of COVID-19 coverage.

There’s no contemporary history of what radio ratings look like when – in a matter of weeks – the country suffers flu-related deaths by the tens of thousands. Prognosticating ratings results was, therefore, uncharted (morbid) territory.

Playing all-Christmas music works in every market – virtually every time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blue state or red state; a warm weather climate or a cold weather region. Appetite exists for that programming at that time of the year and it can’t be found on any broadcast or cable television network. Completely unknown was the level of desire for pandemic news on radio.

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April 2020 PPM Analysis: The Coronavirus Impact

| May 28, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Posted here over the past week have been comprehensive overviews for news; sports talk; and commercial, English-language news/talk stations.

To further gauge impact of listening owing to the coronavirus crisis, we continue our augmented ratings coverage.

Noted below are news/talk stations that appear in any PPM-market with at least a .1 (April 2020, 6+).

Meanwhile, a top 20 ranking (April 2020, 6+) is the inclusion threshold for news; sports talk; and public radio news/talk facilities.

Nielsen Audio only releases audience estimates for stations subscribing to its services. As a result, ratings stats in this analysis are limited to outlets paying that company for its information.

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