IBA President & Executive Director Ron Stone is addressing the changes announced by Nielsen elimination non-subscribing stations from ratings results to clients.

Stone wrote:

Many radio stations spend significant money supporting the Nielsen services in their markets and feel they should have never been subjected to carrying the load while others benefited without any financial contribution. I am one of them and have stressed this to Nielsen before. The enormous fees that radio stations have been subjected to should have been addressed long ago. The outdated system of ratings gathering should have also been addressed. The idea that we are still relying on a system that has never adapted to a digital world by itself makes no sense. One thing is for certain, this new policy will not solve the problem, and has created a giant need for an alternative service. The time has come for a disrupter product to emerge.

In the words of Rotary International, is this new policy of Nielsen “fair to all concerned?” It seems to me, and many IBA members that have reached out to me on this in the past week it is not. Radio stations more and more cannot justify the high cost of Nielsen ratings. In a world where data collection has never been easier or less expensive, Nielsen failed to adapt and chose instead to continue measuring with outdated and unreliable methods.

NIELSEN BDS LOGOThe questions I believe Nielsen should answer for the audio industry as they move forward in this new direction are:


  1. How will this improve audio delivery measurement for those that do depend on it for decisions, particularly, agencies?


  1. Will existing subscribers to Nielsen see a serious reduction in their cost for the ratings if another radio group wants to sign up to avoid being “delisted” in a market?


  1.  Will Nielsen create a pricing model fair to all and walk away from an unfair system based on the estimated ratings when a station signs up? The work is the same no matter the estimated ratings. Right?

Net Radio

According to Nielsen, “any agency that subscribes to the Respondent Level Data (AKA Tapscan) has the full market view still, subscribers and non-subscribers inclusive”. “The new policy only impacts the Summary Data Set (S.D.S) files.” Any agency could “enhance” their service with Taspcan and avoid any disruption from this new policy, assuming agencies want the data of all stations. Would this lead to new revenue for Nielsen and perhaps create an opportunity to reduce the fees stations pay?

I fail to see how this is beneficial to any radio station current subscriber status aside. Many subscribing stations have asked for this policy for years, as they have been paying for the services where competitors do not. Why implement this now when every independent radio station is doing everything they can just to survive and so few broadcasters will benefit from it?

Radio stations must reduce their dependency on outside companies that feed off our fears that we need them more than they need us. I am no statistician, but no one has ever adequately explained to me how measuring a few hundred people in markets with millions, often several from the same household, truly identifies the listening habits of the entire market. Violent swings in ratings from one book to the next, something many if not all radio stations have experienced, speaks volumes about reliability. We all know listening habits of people do not change as radically as the ratings can indicate. It would not surprise me if many stations that have supported Nielsen in the past now choose to reallocate the significant money for a service that will not tell the entire story.

EASTLAN RATINGSThe IBA is currently working with software engineers and is in conversations with Eastlan Ratings to design a new digital ratings service. A service that will deliver in real time and will eliminate the need for a printed diary or additional devices. It will combine listening from both terrestrial and streaming for more accurate total listening measurement. No station will be excluded from our measurement.

We believe we can deliver on this new service quickly, providing a robust, more reliable alternative for audio measurement benefiting both media companies and agencies. This new ratings service is a giant opportunity to improve how stations are being measured, lower the cost of measurement and be fair to all concerned. “Uber” Ratings… coming soon!