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The fallout from PPM – fewer stopsets per hour?

From Radio Business Report:

CC Radio Houston Moving from 3 to 2 stopsets per hour?

It’s all part of upping the numbers with PPM. We’re getting information, but couldn’t confirm with CCU, that CC Radio Houston sent out an email to agencies and clients last week indicating reasons for moving all five of its FM stations there from 3 to 2 stopsets per hour. Here’s one of them, from one of our sources: “Effective Immediately Clear Channel Houston Radio is moving from 3 stop sets per hour to 2 stop sets per hour. In order to increase our PPM numbers even more. Below are more specifics, the great thing about PPM is we will see the benefits of this much more quickly than we were able with the old diary method. * PPM Changes have brought on new opportunities for ratings growth. In order to get better ratings, * We are programming longer music sweeps and moving from 3 breaks to 2 per hour. * We are not adding minutes or units to any hour. * Research with PPM shows us that people are listening through the commercial breaks * AM drive is not included in the changes – it will remain the same. * It’s only one more minute per break (was 4 min. max now 5 min. max) * Typically the stop set won’t make it to 5 minutes, closer to 4.5 * We are reducing station promos to one minute per hour – this means one more minute of content added to ALL dayparts. * This change takes place immediately on all 5 FM stations. The AM stations are not affected.”


So we’re talking about two breaks per hour and a total of ten minutes of spots per hour. And presumably those spots and spotlets will be sold for a premium (and, thanks to PPM, will presumably warrant a premium) otherwise the Clear Channel cluster will be worse off at the end of the process, whether or not PPM responds (and you can read between the lines to see that there is an implicit bet being placed here that the response will be rapid, indeed).

One might fairly ask: How effective will this be if CCU’s competitors respond now by doing the same thing in the same way? Don’t we just battle to a tie with fewer breaks and shorter spots? Isn’t this kind of advantage a classical short-term one?

Competitively speaking, the ideal strategy is to follow the lead of whomever has the deepest understanding of the PPM numbers and do so rapidly and without exception.

This nullifies any would-be competitive deficiency and returns the battle to equilibrium.

As for what it does to our industry on the whole and our ability to drive revenue, that’s another matter. Isn’t it possible, for example, that CCU’s move is predicated on being the only group to move this way? That if everyone does what CCU does all competitors – including CCU – will be worse off and nobody will be better off revenue-wise?

Food for thought.

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