Nielsen jumps into radio measurement


Look out Arbitron! There’s a new competitor in US radio ratings – and a big one. Cumulus Media has completed its RFP process for ratings in its markets ranked 100+ and announced a deal with The Nielsen Company to provide audience measurement and radio ratings in 50 small- and mid-sized US markets, beginning in 2009. Clear Channel Radio will also subscribe to the syndicated ratings service in 17 of those markets.

“Nielsen is the gold standard for television advertisers who make nearly $80 billion worth of decisions in the U.S. based on Nielsen data. This is a great development for radio,” said Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey.

Nielsen is no stranger to radio measurement. It has been measuring radio audiences around the globe for decades, but has stuck to television in the US – until now. The service, which begins in Q3 2009, will use Nielsen’s “sticker diary,” which it says is proven and easy to use/easy to edit.

Also, in what it claims is an improvement over the “status quo” (meaning Arbitron), Nielsen will use address-based sampling (ABS) to recruit sample households. That is how Arbitron recruits panelists for PPM in Houston, since it developed that methodology when it was working with Nielsen toward a hoped-for joint venture which did not materialize. Arbitron does not use ABS in its other PPM markets. Critics have pointed to that as a possible reason for the Media Ratings Council accrediting PPM in Houston, but not yet in any other markets.

“Clear Channel Radio is delighted to have the choice to move to an improved audience measurement approach in these important markets and applauds Nielsen for bringing their exemplary business practices to radio,” said Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan.

“Cumulus and Clear Channel have made it clear to us that they want to challenge the status quo in these markets by seeking new ways of measuring this important medium. Nielsen agreed to develop this service only after we became convinced there was a market need we could fill by calling upon our broad experience in media measurement,” said Susan Whiting, Vice Chairperson and Executive Vice President of the Nielsen Company.

Here are the 50 radio markets to be measured by Nielsen in 2009:

UPDATE: The original list issued which appears below did not include Appleton-Oshkosh, WI, so there are actually 51 markets. That count grew to 52 with Newburgh-Middletown, NY added at the request of Clear Channel.

· Abilene, TX · Albany, GA (CC) · Amarillo, TX · Ann Arbor, MI · Bangor, ME · Battle Creek, MI · Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX (CC) · Bismarck, ND (CC)· Bridgeport, CT · Cedar Rapids, IA (CC) · Columbia, MO · Columbus-Starkville-West Point, MS · Danbury, CT · Dubuque, IA · Eugene-Springfield, OR · Fayetteville, AR (CC)· Fayetteville, NC · Flint, MI · Florence, SC · Fox Valley, WI · Ft. Smith, AR (CC) · Ft. Walton Beach, FL · Grand Junction, CO · Green Bay, WI · Hudson River Valley, NY (CC) · Huntsville, AL (CC) · Kalamazoo, MI · Killen-Temple, TX (CC) · Lake Charles, LA · Lexington-Fayette, KY (CC) · Macon, GA (CC) · Montgomery, AL (CC) · Myrtle Beach, SC · New River Valley, VA · Odessa-Midland, TX Oxnard-Ventura, CA · Pensacola, FL · Quad Cities, IA-IL (Davenport, Moline-Rock Island-Bettendorf) (CC) · Rochester, MN (CC) · Rockford, IL · Santa Barbara, CA · Savannah, GA (CC) · Shreveport, LA · Tallahassee, FL (CC) · Topeka, KS · Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA · Westchester, NY · Wichita Falls, TX · Wilmington, NC · Youngstown-Warren, OH (CC).

Note: Cumulus Media will be a charter subscriber in all 50 markets. A (CC) following the market name indicates that Clear Channel Radio will also be a charter subscriber.