Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Quick: What’s down but up at the same time?

Answer: Country this summer. AQH up, share of pie down.

Country’s strongest months still happen over the summer, though looking at the latest trends (thanks to Nielsen’s Tony Hereau for providing A&O&B this chart) country is clearly off in share compared to the previous two summers. 

In discussing country’s summer, Nielsen’s VP of Audience Insights Jon Miller shared with me that, while country’s PPM share is in fact down, the format’s AQH is up.

“Country's PPM-market AQH persons has actually increased year to year slightly but the share is down. That's because overall radio AQH (or what we call PUMM) has increased to a larger degree…”

Jon credits eCBET as contributing factor to the larger total audience saying that while cume is up slightly for all radio, overall TSL increases have been significantly greater.

“Everything we have seen from eCBET is TSL driven, which makes total sense. Upgraded codes are not finding new listeners out of thin air - they are extending listening occasions, bridging gaps and thus building TSL.”

To that point, here’s a slide Nielsen presented at last year’s December Audio CLIENT Conference (blue bar = no AQH Ratings change Standard vs. Enhanced, red bar = higher AQH ratings Standard vs. Enhanced). A greater percentage of news/talk/sports stations (left pair of bars) had increases compared to music stations (right pair of bars on).

For Country, the news was worse.

This past February Nielsen posted year-over-year AQH Persons data that showed country as one of the formats that benefitted the least from eCBET (additionally, and not illogically, 6+ appeared to increase more than 18-34 or 25-54).

At music stations, TSL discussions often revolve around music; good TSL is equated with the music being “right” and vice-versa.

And there’s certainly been a lot of discussion about the current state of music for mainstream country stations.

Here’s A&O&B’s comparison of our music test scores through September 1, 2016 with our full year, final music scores of the previous 5 years. This year (at least so far) has produced softer numbers (A&O&B tracks 25-54 so there’s not a clean correlation between Nielsen’s 6+ chart above and A&O&B’s music chart below).

Average of All Songs Tested (LAL)

2016 scores are through 09/01 and refer to final Like A Lot rank as a current.
Because these are rankings, lower scores are better.

But music, while critically important, is still just one of more than 20 factors that can impact TSL.

Some of these are station-controllable (like music and talent performance), others are not (such as weighting or the percent of a format’s Lifegroup in a survey sample).

With our music arguably not as strong as in years past and country's share of the AQH pie smaller given the latest PUMM information, managing those TSL influencers that we do have control over has taken on even greater importance.

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