Rumor has it that the company has installed hundreds at its stations and continues to buy more as they become available.
If you compete against iHeart in a PPM market, you are probably competing with Voltair.
Because so many of the group’s stations are using Voltair, the company’s recent Nielsen performance serves as a useful metric to measure the impact of the box.
We’ll get into the details in a moment, but here’s the bottom line:
This year iHeart has been able to increase the number of stations gaining share by 50%.
In May 2014 only 42% of iHeart stations were able to better their 2013 May numbers. The percentage of improving stations reached 63% this May. That’s an increase of 50%.
Only a third of iHeart stations declined this year compared to 53% last year.
We’ve been doing these analyses for more than ten years, first with diaries and now PPM.
We’ve written often about how most months the ups and downs hover around 50%.
In any given month you can expect half of stations will go up. The other half will go down.
For a large group to increase share at two-thirds of their stations over the same time period is unheard of.
The over-all performance is pretty amazing, but the details are even more striking.
Look at the graph above. It shows the distribution of gains over the two time periods.
Over the 2013-14 time period most of the station gains were less than 20%. Fewer than one-in-five stations managed to grow their share by more than 20%.
This year the percentage of stations that increased more than 20% doubled to 31% of all the group’s stations.
Maybe iHeart programmers got a lot smarter in 2015, or maybe iHeart stations are finally getting credit for listening that PPM has been missing all along.
The gains were pretty much across most formats too.
We compared the median percent change from the first period to the second in each format where iHeart has a significant presence.
Half of iHeart stations in the format did better than the median. Half did worse.
As the chart at the left shows, the median performance for major formats in 2014 was anywhere from flat to a decline of 10%.
Country was the only format where iHeart managed to show a gain in 2014.
Every one of the formats turned around in 2015 with gains from 5% to 15%. Even Country managed to exceed its 2014 performance. Quite a turn around.
Given iHeart’s soft performance in 2014 we would have anticipated a small uptick in 2015 without the stations doing anything differently. In technical terms it is called reversion to the mean.
It is the magnitude of the gains that suggest something more than just a reversion bounce.
Knowing the flaws in PPM and the fact that many formats are not getting credit for listening they have had all along, a far more reasonable explanation is that Voltair has had a major positive impact on iHeart station ratings.
To understand the impact of iHeart’s decision to install Voltair, just add up the shares of all PPM measured iHeart stations.
Those shares increased nearly 9% after the group started installing Voltair. That’s a lot of listeners.
And those shares came from iHeart’s competitors.
Still believe that PPM is accurate and does a good job crediting stations for all the listening they deserve?
You must not work for iHeartMedia.