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Are You Listening More, the Same Amount or Less Than You Were Six Months Ago?

In NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study Ten, our latest study of nearly 3,000 respondents ages 14-54 across all PPM markets, we probed 6-month TSL momentum for a variety of sources and services. Subtracting those who say they’re listening less to a source than they were 6 months ago from those who say they’re now listening more to that source gets us a single TSL momentum number. A positive number indicates growth. A negative number means decline.

We’re pleased to report that overall, TSL momentum for Music on FM radio is positive. Not outrageously positive, but not negative. When we drilled down into the subsamples that model as being likely compliers in either metered or diary ratings methodologies, these self-assessment numbers look even better. The trouble lies away from the populations that would likely accept a meter or diary – and out in the strong majority who would likely ignore an opportunity to wear a meter or keep a one-week diary.

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Those who are most receptive to participating in the ratings methodologies that help radio sales teams move inventory, in the aggregate, are saying they believe they’re spending more time with FM Music Radio than they were six months ago. Despite all the negative press, the mammoth proliferation of FM radios, the free distribution of music on FM radio and the enormous person-hours invested in making great playlists and music schedules is keeping FM Music Radio very much alive.

Of course, radio also faces more competition than ever before. Wireless Internet allows consumers to connect with a multitude of sources quickly and easily. As connected cars increase in numbers and as manufacturers develop interfaces that make it even easier to access Internet sources, such as Ford’s announced integration of Alexa into vehicles, the competition will only get fiercer.

Our data shows Pandora having become a far less shiny object that it had been, with more reporting listening less than reporting listening more overall. Meanwhile, it’s Spotify that is taking its turn to bask in the hearts of consumers. Will it stay there? There’s lots of money being played on both sides of that bet. And, it’s far too early to declare Pandora on its way out.

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For now, for radio, not having these new services measured in the ratings means that ad buyers are forced to guess at comparative listening levels – both a blessing and curse, depending on the situation. What our data shows is that, among those likely to participate in either metered or diary ratings methodologies, there’s celebration of having so many options. These are populations who really love listening and they’ll listen anywhere they can. Likely meter wearers and diary keepers both show positive TSL momentum for FM Music Radio, Spotify and Pandora. It’s there among non-participants for ratings services that Pandora drops into negative numbers.

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FM Music Radio is a long way from being dead or even on the ropes, but we’re not foolish enough to ignore this new competition (right?). Next week, we’ll look at Spoken Word radio and the new kid on that block: Podcasting.

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