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PPM Highlights for January 2019

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PPM Highlights for January 2019


January is a PPM survey that many stations anxiously await. It’s the start of a new ratings year, and it follows what can be a two-month dip for many formats. The preceding December and Holiday surveys just don’t represent ‘the norm’ that often.

Which brings us to this point when looking at your monthly numbers: Share says a lot about a station’s performance against the market, but it doesn’t tell the whole story about how a station is really doing. AQH Persons indicates whether a station’s listening is up or down, not AQH Share.  After AQH Persons is analyzed, the next question is this: what caused AQH to move up or down, was it Cume or Time Spent Listening? I want to thank the members of PRPD’s Public Radio News/Talk group for their lively debate on Cume and TSL trends these last two weeks.

So how did 48, full-time News stations do for listening in January 2019 when compared to their 2018 thirteen-month average for AQH Persons?  The results are mixed:

23 were UP
4 were flat
21 were DOWN

Out of the 23 stations that are above their 2018 benchmark for AQH Persons:

15 are up in Cume
12 are up in TSL
4 are up in both

Out of the 21 stations who are starting 2019 below their 2018 benchmark:

14 are down in Cume
13 are down in TSL
6 are down in both

As you can see, there’s no clear pattern with January alone about Cume or Time Spent Listening trends. What does stand out the most this survey are the five stations down in AQH Persons….but up in AQH Share. This is not uncommon in recent years given the shrinking sum of AQH Persons in PPM and Diary markets due to the continued digital fragmentation of audiences. Public News stations might be down in any given month, usually less than the market, and that means a higher Share of the market.

As far as music stations fared, Bill Lueth of Classical KDFC & Classical KUSC was quick to notice that KUSC-Los Angeles had a 5.1 Share and #1 ranking for the Evening Daypart in the January book. WBJC-Baltimore and All Classical Portland also had huge Shares for Persons 6+, M-F 7p-12a. Could Evenings be the new Middays for Classical?

One month does not a trend make, but a thirteen-month average for 2018 could. Below is the number of non-commercial Classical stations in PPM markets to have their best 2018 Daypart Share in the corresponding Nielsen Audio Daypart:

AM Drive – 1
Middays – 5
PM Drive – 1
Evenings – 14
Weekends – 5

Part of this performance by Classical stations could be associated with the question of news fatigue; listeners may be turning off the TV at night and listening to Classical music with a good book instead.

In summary, LISTENING is AQH Persons, not AQH Share. You must focus on AQH Persons (and its components of Cume and Time Spent Listening) in order to grow the listening on your station.

Did you really have a good January just because your Share is up? Check your AQH Persons first.

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