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Radio’s Looming Internet Ratings Crisis

A No-Nonsense Marketing Smart Tip October 2, 2006

This is serious business. As in serious dollars and cents.

I’m talking about Arbitron’s rules on measuring audience for radio stations via online listening.

According to those rules, if the station isn’t 100% simulcast online and off – including all commercials – then it does not count as listening to that station.

But because of antiquated AFTRA rules that charge high fees on repurposing these spots online, most stations don’t run them.

Here’s what that means: The more folks shift some of their audio listening to the Internet (in all its forms) and the better the job that Arbitron does at capturing that listening, the more likely you are to LOSE audience by streaming (technically speaking) – unless, of course, you or your agencies and their clients pay the high fees for a programming stream which is barely monetized.

This will become a serious problem for your station when Arbitron’s new diary design goes into effect in 2007 or 2008 and listeners are provided with a column to check that essentially says “Internet” right next to the ones that say “FM” and “AM.”

I STRONGLY recommend that you listen to my Q&A with Steve Goldstein, former Arbitron Advisory Council board member and chair and current head of programming for Saga Communications.

Steve will highlight this problem, the reasons for it, and what we as an industry must do about it.

After you listen to the 15-minute discussion I urge you to contact your NAB and RAB representatives as well as the head of your broadcast group.

The time to meet with AFTRA and the agencies is now.

Please share this audio with others in the industry and involve them in this cause.


From one broadcaster:

Mark, There is another problem with recording internet listening only for stations that simulcast 100%. Any station that runs Major League Baseball or NFL football is not allowed to stream those games. So, none of the other programming counts, and since most of those stations are AM, there could be considerable listening in offices over the internet.
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