Each market takes its turn in the spotlight, with pundits, program directors, consultants, and managers dissecting each release in hopes of divining the future of formats and stations.
It is a ritual that Arbitron has participated in for more than 40 years. But no more.
Arbitron announced that it will no longer release complete total person shares, only the ratings of paying customers.
Now radio stations who choose not to subscribe to Arbitron will simply disappear, banished to invisibility unless they pay up.
The decision is attributed to client demands that Arbitron enforce rules against non-clients quoting published numbers. This may be true, but the decision is ultimately short-sighted.
In the short term is might help a few Arbitron clients. The strong-arm tactic may even give Arbitron a minor bump in revenue (although we doubt it).
Arbitron ratings are radio’s most credible weapon to push back on new-media’s relentless assault on broadcast radio.
Radio’s ability to use Arbitron’s numbers to show both the medium’s continued reach as well as new-media-beating TSL are essential.
But at this critical time when the radio industry needs Arbitron’s help to spread the news, Arbitron is moving in the opposite direction.
Soon after William Kerr became Arbitron’s CEO he expressed interest in helping radio.
He promised to make Arbitron an advocate for radio and increase the medium’s profile. He’s got a funny way of showing it.
The company is putting more and more restrictions on those of us who want to use the numbers to illustrate radio’s continued strength and help broadcast radio continue to grow.
We will have more to say about this in the future, but get ready for rankers like the one shown above.