Friday, February 24, 2017

Headphones: An Enormous Issue For Radio

The radio industry has been concerned about measurement of listening while wearing headphones or earbuds, but until now no one has known just how big the issue could be. Now data released Thursday by Alan Burns and Associates and Strategic Solutions Research suggests that the amount of listening by women while wearing headphones may be far higher than most would have guessed.

“Almost half (49%) of all women 15-54 told us they wear headphones during some of their time spent with radio” said Alan Burns, “and the number is higher among heavy radio listeners (56%) and at work listeners (57%). Those numbers are well beyond ours and most people’s expectations.”

“Many of those women use headphones for a great deal of their time spent listening,” added Strategic EVP Hal Rood. “15% of women told us they use headphones for half or more of their radio listening; if that listening was not accurately measured it can have a massive impact on radio AQH.”

The bigger story, though, may lie in what actual ratings participants said. The Burns/Strategic “What Women Want” survey of 2000 respondents found 142 former ratings survey participants among the sample.

“The numbers escalate dramatically among women who had actually been part of a ratings sample,” said Burns. “More than four out of every ten of them said they wear headphones or earbuds during half or more of their radio listening. That’s enormous; imagine how incomplete measurement of that kind of listening could impact listening estimates. It’s critical that headphone listening be captured and measured fully and accurately, and we know Nielsen is working on the issue.”

Next week’s data from “What Women Want – 2017” will focus on Top 40 and Hot AC listeners and listening. You can register for the free 30-minute webinars by clicking here: What Women Want 2017 Webinar or the What Women Want icons at or

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