Nielsen Challenged on eCBET


Abitron / PPM 360Nielsen says its PPM is capturing more listening with enhanced Critical Band Encoding Technology.

What the company should say, according to programming consultant Richard Harker, is “PPM missed 1.4 million quarter-hours of radio….sorry.”

In an article by Managing Director of Nielsen Audio Brad Kelly and Chief Engineer Arum Ramaswamy last week, both expressed optimism about radio because of enhancements made possible with the company’s enhanced PPM encoding software.

The Average Quarter Hour audience for audio has grown 13% in PPM markets among persons 6+ from February last year compared to February 2016, according to Kelly.

Nearly 3,000 stations have upgraded to enhanced CBET. The results are based on field tests on stations using the previous version of CBET compared to stations using eCBET.

“Yes, it’s great news that radio ratings are up, but radio has lived for nearly a decade chained to a flawed ratings methodology that has hurt radio by undercounting its listeners,” asserts Harker in a blog.

He challenged Nielsen to release comparable numbers for September 2014 to September 2015 so the industry can see what impact Voltair had on AQH.

Asked for reaction by RBR+TVBR, Nielsen pointed us to last week’s joint article in which the company said testing found enhanced CBET improved detection for stations in all formats and does not compromise audio quality.

RBR+TVBR observation: Rather than year-over year comparisons, there needs to be long-term testing. And if captured listening is better, what was it before?

But questions of how and what to test arise because not all stations are admitting they have a Voltair in their air chain. Ideally, you’d compare the encoding process of stations that have just eCBET to those that have just Voltair to those that have both — and by format and market. There are too many variables, including the election campaigns, to draw early conclusions about technology alone boosting the ratings, according to analysts we spoke with.