Now that Nielsen is jumping into the radio research game, some of the basic "truths" that have been so evident for so long are being verified.
Case in point: Nielsen's first foray into radio ratings - their pilot study in Lexington, Kentucky.
The big headline? Cell-phone only penetration and heightened listening among those who fall into that category. According to this pilot study:
- The cell-phone only respondents make up more than one-fifth of the overall sample.
- They listen to more radio - 23 hours a week versus just over 19 hours for the entire sample.
- And they listen to more stations - 3.5 stations versus under 3 stations for the total sample.
And of course, they're younger, skewing very 18-34.
As readers of this blog and Jacobs Media clients know, we're the company that first brought the cell-phone only dilemma to Arbitron back in '05 when our first nationwide Tech Poll was completed. Fast-forward to our newest survey (due out in just a couple of weeks), and cell-phone only penetration continues to rise, affecting younger listeners and formats that target them.
Arbitron has stepped up with a deeper commitment to reaching these all-important listeners, and Nielsen's new entry underscores their value. Radio ratings are only viable when everyone has an equal chance of participating, and given emerging technology patterns and gadget ownership, these numbers are a good thing and tell us a lot of about the changing face of America.
For all the programmers, general managers, CEOs, and owners who took a stand on this issue, thank you. Now that the playing field is leveling in Arbitron, and now Nielsen, it can only be a good thing for the radio broadcasting industry.