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Has Radio lost listeners to Satellite because of Howard Stern?

From Inside Radio:

No significant loss of listeners to satellite” from Stern’s defection. Katz researcher Maggie Hauck says “Howard Stern listeners have stuck with terrestrial radio despite all the hype.” From the first batch of Winter Arbitrons it appears “the Stern audience poured out all over the terrestrial radio dial” — scattered among other stations — but “the Persons Using Radio levels barely budged.” So Americans (at least n the biggest markets) didn’t run to Sirius to catch their idol. Here’s the statistical thing to understand — You could have a big share of a shrinking audience but it wouldn’t do you much good. What Katz is saying is that the total audience — the PUR — didn’t shrink in this Winter book (so far). It was off 2% in New York, Long island and Chicago. And maybe 1% in L.A.

Now this is spin at light-speed.

First, the conclusion that Stern listeners “stuck” with terrestrial radio “despite all the hype” rests on the conclusion that PUR declined by “only” 2%.

Perhaps the folks at Katz need to be reminded that Satellite Radio listenership is now recorded in the diaries and, thus, counts towards Persons Using Radio. So if Stern listeners move from one “row” in the ratings to another, they are still PUR. At least some of the relative stability must be explained so. (indeed, Arbitron tells me that almost 4% of the NY MSA diarykeepers reported listening to Satellite Radio in the Winter book).

But beyond that, why should we expect that listeners who skip over to SIRIUS for Stern will necessarily turn off radio as a result? I wouldn’t expect that at all.

What we know – for a fact – is that SIRIUS subscriptions are up. In no small part due to Stern fans. That is what we know.

Also, the notion that former Stern listeners “poured all over the terrestrial radio dial” should give no one much solace, considering ratings strength is not derived by spreading around audiences like pollen in the wind. If anything, this reflects the lack of attractive alternatives. Not the presence of strength for the medium.

Further, a 2% drop in PUR is nothing to dismiss. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen EVERY book.

And finally, this from an inside source on the NY numbers:

Let’s look at 25-44 men (Howard’s core demo) in morning drive. [The AQH] figure is off 3% book-to-book and 9% this Winter compared to last Winter!

Again, however, my fundamental point isn’t that PUR is going down. Maybe in the long run it isn’t. My point is that healthy and leading audience shares don’t happen because we as an industry succeed in spreading a large base of fans to one morning show across fifty “good enough” alternatives.

Not unless we all aspire to a 2-share.

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