Comparing Arbitron and Univision comments on PPM


Univision remains the big holdout for Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM). That’s impacted revenues for both companies, so what has each been saying lately about the standoff?

Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker brought up the issue this week at her company’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.

Univision had reported radio revenues down 7.5% in Q3, while many of its peers were reporting gains. The company had blamed that in large part on its lack of ratings service, due to its dispute with Arbitron over the PPM methodology.

In that Q&A period on November 4th, analyst Aaron Watts of Deutsche Bank asked: “Cognizant of what’s going on with the ratings on the radio side of the business, any better sense for when you may see that turn the corner and, you know, close the gap to what we’re hearing from the English language guys?”

“Well I think Aaron – we’re still in a situation with PPM,” said Univision Communications CEO Joe Uva. “As you know, we reached an agreement earlier this year with part of the Coalition of Minority Broadcasters with Arbitron and Arbitron had committed to fixes in the methodology and sample and panel recruiting and maintenance. And they are at work dealing with that. But as we said, that’s going to take some time to complete. While the work is starting and being done, it’s not expected that that process is going to end prior to the spring of 2012. We, however, are taking steps to continuously look at our programming offerings and formats and we fully expect that some changes that we are making will result in our ability to increase our revenue take.”

So the talks continue, but neither side is predicting when Univision might come back into the fold as an Arbitron customer.

RBR-TVBR observation: Arbitron, of course, hasn’t disclosed just how much revenue it has lost from not having the largest Spanish radio group as a ratings subscriber. However, it has reported that it was shy $11.2 million in the first nine months of 2010 from companies which had been subscribers in 2009 but not this year. Some of that was from stations dropping their subscriptions in smaller diary markets, but Arbitron acknowledges that the biggest chunk is from not having Univision as a customer.