PPM Format Norms Study: Cume beats TSL.
With the radio industry now several years deep into PPM-based ratings, the recipe for success is increasingly clear. Three of radio’s top five most listened to formats, based on average 6+ AQH market share, also rank top five in cume but are among the five lowest formats in Time Spent Listening (TSL).
Classic/adult hits (ranked first with a 7.7), AC (second with a 7.6) and CHR (No. 5 with a 6.7) are cume magnets that finish near the bottom of the barrel in TSL. News/talk is the only format to make the top five powered by high TSL and relatively low cume. The results of the largest format study ever based on PPM data appears to reinforce the philosophy embraced by many programmers that winning under electronic measurement has become a cume contest.
“Yes, you have to have a high cume, and more specifically a high P1 cume,” says Research Director, Inc. partner Charlie Sislen. “But you also need high TSL among P1s, even though they are only a small portion of your total audience.”
The study of radio’s 30 largest markets, based on an average of the January-September 2010 surveys, shows weekly P1 TSL of seven hours and 38 minutes for classic/adult hits and 7:29 for AC — both well above average. But P1 TSL among the formats runs a wide gamut, from as high as 8:48 (jazz) to as low as 4:41 (CHR). “When you focus on your TSL, it’s important to focus on your P1 TSL because you can have a ton of incidental listening,” Sislen says. (While classic hits and adult hits are distinctly different formats, they have remarkably similar audience composition and were grouped together for this study. Stations in all formats with less than a 0.5 share in total week persons 6+ were excluded from the study.)
As expected, some ethnic-targeted formats ranked lower in the new, expanded 2010 study compared to last year’s, which was confined to the 16 large, ethnically diverse initial PPM markets where African Americans and Hispanics represent large chunks of the population. Urban AC, for example, finished first last year with a 7.8. But adding in less ethnically diverse medium-sized Midwest markets — such as St. Louis, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Cleveland — caused it to drop to an eighth place tie (6.4), while regional Mexican fell from sixth to tenth. Conversely, the 2010 study’s larger, most representative market mix triggered sharp share increases by several general market formats, such as country and rock (which encompasses alternative, active rock and mainstream rock). While lower in overall market share than last year, urban AC hit it out of the park in P1 Time Spent Listening. At eight hours and 17 minutes, only classical and jazz score higher. Urban Contemporary and Spanish Contemporary, meanwhile, rank third and fourth, respectively, in 18-49 market share.
“The study represents an average of 30 markets, with vastly different dynamics in population, lifestyles and competitive makeups,” Sislen says. “Those different characteristics will change how each individual market reacts.”
Among the study’s top takeaways is the high degree of ratings compression fostered by radio’s new currency. Just 1.3 shares separate formats No. 1 and No. 8 based on 6+ market share. That compression is equally evident in the 25-54 demo, where classic/adults hits and rock are tied for No. 1 with an 8.2, followed by AC (7.5), country (7.2), and Spanish Contemporary (6.9) [see chart, right]. The congestion is even more dramatic when looking at average station share in the 25-54 demo, where five formats in the top six are within one tenth of a share of each other.
In addition to showing the average market share for 15 different formats across six demographics, the PPM Format Norms 2010 study also breaks out average station shares by format. Comparing the two sets of data illustrates the appetite for various formats within an average market and shows which ones are under- and over-represented. For example, there are nearly two rock stations per market — 55 total in the 30 markets surveyed — yet there appears to be enough available audience to go around. Rock is tied for first in average 25-54 market share with an 8.2 and its average station share is 4.4, tied for fourth.
CHR, meanwhile, is less represented than rock with 36 stations in the 30-market study or about 1.2 per market. So each CHR station gets a bigger slice of the format’s 10.8 market share in 18-34. In fact, the average CHR station captured a 7.8 share in 18-34, higher than any other format. CHR has been enjoying a ratings renaissance all year long and the study helps put that in perspective. The format finished first in average station AQH share in 6+, 18-34, and 18-49 and tied for second in persons 25-54.
Sports, on the other hand is over-represented in most PPM markets: 53 stations competing for an average 25-54 market share of 4.1. “You go into markets where there are three sports stations sharing a five share,” Sislen says. “Their demographics are extremely desirable and stations like [CBS Radio’s] WFAN [New York] do extremely well. But there isn’t enough mass to support three-four sports stations in a market.”
Want more? Read a demo-by-demo breakout of the best-performing formats HERE.
Beginning in tomorrow’s Inside Radio individual format profiles based on exclusive PPM data and insights from leading programmers and consultants.