As Clear Channel increases spot breaks, will ratings suffer?

One of the consequences of reducing spots on Clear Channel stations is that breaks will increase. That is, There will be fewer commercials overall and per break – but more breaks. Effectively most stations will be going from two to three breaks during the middays and afternoon.

There’s a lot of consternation about this at CCU, from what I can tell. And with good reason.

Common sense and oodles of research, including some of my own, has shown that listeners view a break as a spot, and if they’re going to switch the station they generally do so early in the break. Thus, more breaks mean more incentive to switch stations more often. And that would translate to lower Time Spent Listening and lower ratings overall.

Scary prospect.

But what if the research and the common sense is wrong?

For example, remember that people generally behave one way in their cars when the button is at arm’s length, and another way on the job, when Radio is more for background and the listener is presumably busy working and thus is not likely at all to switch the station. The workday begins, they set it and forget it.

(By the way, great way to start your workday, radio folks: “Set it and forget it.”)

Since the majority of a station’s ratings generally come from those long workplace hours, it’s conceivable that there will be zero change in ratings resulting from increasing the number of spot breaks.

I may be wrong, but that’s my expectation. At the end of the day listeners will reward us for less inventory, not punish us for more breaks.

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