How is it then, that Nielsen can seemingly pretend that streaming metrics don’t matter? How is it that Nielsen ignores streaming in its estimates?
Look at any Nielsen ranker and you’ll find pages of blank numbers next to the streams of top ranked stations.
Can it really be true that top ranked stations have no streaming listeners?
Theoretically, the stream listenership of a station ought to show up in PPM. Streams are uniquely encoded so PPM should be able to detect streaming listenership, yet only a handful of streaming stations show up on PPM rankers with tenths of shares, and only occasionally.
Either no one is listening to the streams of top ranked stations, or PPM has a serious technological or methodological flaw. Maybe in years past it didn’t matter that much. Not that many people listened to local streams then.
Today however, a majority of listeners are willing and able to listen to streams. If Nielsen really is radio’s rating currency, then failing to include streaming in listening estimates is a serious problem for radio.
To our knowledge, Nielsen has never addressed the absence of any significant stream numbers in the ratings. Not a word.
If we accept the likelihood that an unknown amount of broadcast listening is migrating to the streams of broadcast stations--and that it is probably growing, Nielsen’s estimates become more and more suspect.
Nielsen just released its latest State of the Media: Audio Today, subtitled "How America Listens."
It is fifteen pages of radio listening data without a single word about broadcast streaming. Not a word.
Nielsen claims that radio’s reach declined 0.6% last year, but the figure counts only reach that Nielsen can measure.
It isn’t accurate. It isn’t useful because it only includes broadcast radio as measured by Nielsen.
Twenty years ago counting only over-the-air broadcast listening it might have reflected the state of the medium, but today it is out of touch with what’s really going on with radio.
Why is Nielsen’s head in the sand regarding streaming?
The reason is obvious: Nielsen does not yet measure streaming (at least not in a manner that captures what’s really happening). Why draw attention to a service that Nielsen measures poorly?
So radio is portrayed by Nielsen as a medium pretty much unchanged since Marconi.
It might be the right business decision for Nielsen, but a bad decision for its radio clients.