Ratings data crunched on Wall Street

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Two analysts are out with their take on the Fall Arbitron ratings, but it you think it is just simple math, think again. Chris Ensley at Bear Stearns declared Emmis one of the biggest gainers on a revenue-weighted ratings basis, while Marci Ryvicker at Wachovia listed Emmis as one of the worst performers year-over-year.


It’s all in the methodology and assumptions, of course. Looking over the research reports each issued yesterday, we see that Ensley has New York accounting for 33% of Emmis’ radio revenues and Los Angeles 29%, while Ryvicker has it 31% for New York and 26% for LA.

“On a weighted basis, Emmis’ Fall ratings increased by 7.2%. Emmis benefited from ratings increases in its largest markets, such as Los Angeles (+20%) and Chicago (+17%), that more than offset ratings declines in smaller markets such as Austin (-12%) and Terre Haute (-12%). Ratings were also down slightly in New York (-6%),” Ensley wrote in his analysis of year-over-year, revenue weighted ratings for the 25-54 demo.

Using the same 25-54 data as a starting point, Ryvicker shows the unweighted results that Emmis’ ratings were down 5% year-over-year in New York, up 3% in LA, up 13% in Chicago, up 1% in St. Louis, up 4% in Indianapolis, down 15% in Austin and down 5% in Terre Haute. That’s an overall decline of 4%. And, using her formula for revenue weighting, Ryvicker concludes that Emmis’ revenue-weighted ratings were down 4% as well.

Ensley shows two public radio companies doing even better than Emmis for year-over-year weighted ratings: Beasley, up 11.7%, and Salem (music stations only), up 8.5%. Ryvicker doesn’t have either of those companies on her coverage list.

“Among our companies under coverage, both CBS and Cox Radio had the best y/y performance among A25-54, with improvements of 1% and 2%, respectively.  We attribute CBS’ share gains to programming changes implemented by Dan Mason, and we believe that the monetization of such share gains combined with expense reductions (staff cuts) will lead to margin expansion.  CXR’s share increase was due primarily to its Atlanta cluster (~25% of rev.), which improved by 6%,” Ryvicker told clients.

RBR/TVBR observation: Don’t ask us to referee this. We do, though, find the difference in analysis interesting. Both analysts noted that PPM ratings data from two large markets complicated the calculations. Ryvicker decided to exclude Houston and Philadelphia from the overall analysis, then noted how PPM data would have adjusted the numbers for each group. Ensley included the two PPM markets, then added a note on how much the numbers would change with Houston and Philadelphia excluded. But that doesn’t have anything to do with the difference of opinion over Emmis, which has no stations in either market.