The Mystery Of Lost Cume In The Philadelphia PPM; Patchen Apologizes; Bob Neil Calls For MRC's OK; Kabrich Responds
April 28, 2008 at 12:24 PM (PT)
FRIDAY's ARBITRON PPM conference call (NET NEWS, 4/25) struck a nerve with consultant and ARBITRON watchdog RANDY KABRICH, who took issue with the notion intimated by ARBITRON execs that the dramatic loss of cume in PHILADELPHIA's PPM was due to people who "don't like radio any more,"
"After telling us for several years radio needed to be a reach medium, all it takes to get me steamed is ARBITRON's Chief Research Officer BOB PATCHEN telling radio that 18-34 targeted station's cume is off by roughly 30% because every station is bad and that these people don't like radio as much as they did 12 months ago. So, I decided to see what exactly was going on with the cumes in the PHILADELPHIA market."
After telling us radio needed to be a reach medium ... Bob Patchen is telling radio that 18-34 targeted station's cume is off by roughly 30% because every station is bad and that these people don't like radio as much as they did 12 months ago.
Time To Crunch The Numbers
So KABRICH crunched the numbers, using PHILADELPHIA Year-to-Year PPM cumes M-S, 6A-12M for not only P12+, but for every age cell in both Men and Women for the Top-20 stations. He also pulled the PUR for every age cell year-to-year. His conclusions:
* Year-to-Year, only 3 stations out of the Top 20 grew in cume; 13 stations lost cume; 4 were flat. The average cume loss was over 100,000. That's a startling loss for that many stations.
* The losses are nearly entirely from Men and Women 25-34 and from Men 45-54. In most demos, the YTY cume changes were a wash, meaning just as many gained as lost, so the cume shifts make sense. However, in Men and Women 25-34 and in Men 45-54, the cume losses are staggering. Interesting that it's 25-34 that they are tinkering with right now ... adding sample, which drops the weight of each person in the sample ... the weight equals the cume each in-tab contributes to a station.
KABRICH asks aloud, "Is the PUR down? NO! If listeners don't 'like' radio and complain about us. in ARBITRON's research, as BOB PATCHEN was telling us, the PUR should have dropped. It didn't. In fact, the PUR is up dramatically! P12+ PUR is up 361,000 YTY. The 25-34 PUR is up by 1/4 million! There are a few cells that are down a tick, but nothing significant -- all within the range that's considered to be 'normal'.
"How can the vast majority of stations in the market have huge cume losses in the 25-34 age cell, but the 25-34 PUR be up by a quarter-million?"
Here are the details of KABRICH's research. All seven pages of data was taken from Strata runs of the ARBITRON PPM books MARCH 07 to MARCH 08, M-S, 6A-12M cume by demo. Each age cell is on its own page and the PUR is at the end.
ARBITRON's SVP Press & Investor Relations THOM MOCARSKY responded late FRIDAY (4/25), regarding PATCHEN's comments: Mr. PATCHEN's comments regarding reports of what focus groups have previously indicated about listening by young adults do not represent ARBITRON’s official position on the listening behavior by 18-34 year olds. We indicated we would follow up with the questioner regarding the listening statistics that were cited."
Bob Patchen Apologizes And Clarifies
Regarding those remarks referenced by MOCARSKY, BOB PATCHEN said,"During FRIDAY’s PPM UPDATE WEBINAR I made some off-the-cuff, opinion-based remarks in response to a question about the year-to-year cume audience trend in PHILADELPHIA. My comments suggested a link between lower cume estimates and reduced interest in radio among young adults. I want to apologize because my response was both irrelevant to the question being asked and a gross over-generalization on the topic. They do not reflect either my views or those of ARBITRON about the relevance of radio. Clearly, I should have reviewed the data and provided a fact-based response.
"During the weekend we conducted an analysis of the cume estimates for all home to metro stations that were reported in both the MARCH 2008 and MARCH 2007 surveys. The complete analysis is attached.
"We analyzed 23 stations that are home to the PHILADELPHIA metro and were reported in both the MARCH 2007 and MARCH 2008 survey periods. The average percent change in weekly cume for these stations was a GAIN of 3.1% versus the prior MARCH. Eighteen stations did indeed show a decline in weekly cume. However, those declines do not tell the complete story. The following five stations had noteworthy gains:
"Among Persons 18-34, the average station saw a slight gain of .7% in weekly cume in MARCH 2008 versus MARCH 2007. Fourteen of the 23 stations had a decline in weekly cume audience versus MARCH of last year. However, the following eight stations experienced gains in audience versus last year:
"As the recent INFINITE DIAL 2008 study from ARBITRON/EDISON shows, radio remains a highly relevant medium for millions of listeners The study found that more than one in five (21%) consumers say radio is second only to mobile phones as the audio platform that has the biggest impact on their lives. Three-quarters say they will continue to listen to AM/FM radio as much as they do now, despite the increasing advancements in technologies (e.g. online radio and iPODS/mp3 players and podcasting). Link: www.arbitron.com/downloads/digital_radio_study_2008.pdf.
Again, I apologize for my off-the-cuff comments on FRIDAY. In the future I'll avoid responding to similar questions before checking the actual data."
Bob Neil Calls For MRC Seal Of Approval
COX RADIO Pres. & CEO BOB NEIL told ALL ACCESS, "What does it say about the quality of the research, when the Chief Research Officer is making statements before he has his facts straight? This is one more reason why we need the science verified by the MRC before the PPM rollout continues. We can't afford to have the currency of our business being manufactured by CURLY, LARRY, and MOE in the 'Data Warehouse' without oversight, or we'll be the ones with pie on our face."
It didn't take RANDY KABRICH long to respond to PATCHEN's numbers: "Typical ARBITRON, doing half the research.
*WRFF with its skewing 214.6% change - changed formats after MARCH 2007.
*WJJZ, if you remember, had a facility change
"In fact, you can say that WYSP highly adjusted its format, as FREE-FM disappeared. If you take WRFF out and WJJZ out, even leaving WYSP in for good measure, the median is down 9.6% and the average is down 7.82%. Take out WYSP in its transition and median is down 9.8% and average is down 9.3%.
"If they want to play that game (which is bunk, btw), that's a loss of 1.75 million cume and a very real median station loss of 92,900 per station. Here is my data.
"You will also notice that the only station that lives in the 18-34 world in PATCHEN's response was WRFF, which we have already shown, changed formats. The stations that live and die there -- Top 40, Urban and Rock -- otherwise were not included.
"For them the loss is MUCH GREATER and very real."