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Radio’s Streaming Nightmare come true

Once upon a time there was a radio station in a large market.

And that station streamed online.

After a ratings book, the station discovered that one listener – one diary – noted listening to their stream, but not the station on-air.

Because of Arbitron’s rules which insist that the stream and the station can only be counted together if they are identical down to the very last commercial (which describes virtually no commercial station), this person was counted as a stream listener, but not a station listener.

But see, this listener listened to that stream all day and almost every day.

Now granted, if that stream didn’t exist we don’t know for sure all that listening would have gone to this station, but surely some of it would have. And what if all of it did?

In fact, if that one diary of listening were added to the station’s audience pile, it would have been worth an estimated .2 share among persons 25-54.

And if that doesn’t sound like much, consider this:

The station would have leaped five rank positions.

I don’t need to spell out the revenue consequences.

Is this happening to you?

Very likely.

As I have said before, this unhappy story is only going to get more unhappy if broadcasters and advertisers don’t endeavor to resolve the conflict with AFTRA that is necessitating commercial substitution in the first place.

Either broadcasters solve this problem, or the very real ratings penalty combined with rising bandwidth and streaming costs will conspire to shut down radio station streams all across the land.

And if listeners can’t get what they want from you wherever they want it, they’ll simply go someplace else.

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