Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Curran: Heavy Listeners Still Key To Ratings And Revenue

As radio collectively grapples with historic levels of unemployment and millions of people telecommuting, our indomitable spirit remains. As we fight our way back, there’s an emerging opportunity to increase average daily cume and AQH persons, the building blocks of ratings and revenue.

Despite the temptation to pursue at-home listening/streaming, radio needs to maintain its strategic focus and resources on the Heavy Listeners (7+ hours/week in PPM; 100+ QH in Diary) who generate consistent daily cume and deliver the majority of their QHRs out of home (commute/work).

Prior to COVID-19, 130 million Americans commuted to work in a car each day. These listeners are radio’s bread and butter.

Andrew Curran
According to Andrew Curran, President & COO, DMR/Interactive, “If there was ever a doubt that radio consumption is dominated by workers who commute, coronavirus has driven home that point. As more segments of the economy reopen, radio must continue to earn these newly available listening occasions and not assume we are entitled to them.”

As radio keeps moving forward, Heavy Listeners remain essential. Audience data across markets and formats confirms that although light users generate cume, they have minimal impact on your ratings. This insight was true before COVID-19, it's true now and it will be true on the other side of this pandemic.

As Heavy Listeners head back to work, they will be joined by an emerging segment of commuters who have access to a car, but until coronavirus, relied on mass transit.
  • About 7.5 million workers nationwide previously used public transportation to get to work.
  • In the age of coronavirus, nobody wants to be on a crowded bus, subway or commuter rail.
The impact on mass transit from COVID-19 has been catastrophic (Insights from each Top 10 market below).
  • New York - Ridership down 92%
  • Los Angeles - Ridership down 76%
  • Dallas - Ridership down 71%
Curran believes there’s a risk in dismissing the impact of mass transit riders due to perceptions of relatively small numbers outside the Top 10 markets, but every PD knows well, the very real impact one or two heavy panelists/diary keepers have on your ratings.

The sustained opportunity for these commuters to remain behind the wheel, can help radio offset the impact of unemployment and telecommuting during COVID-19.

Curran continues, “In the weeks and months ahead, as more people resume their commute, it's an opportunity to welcome people back and remind them that Radio Rides Shotgun – No Distancing Required.”

He adds DMR/Interactive is committed to ensuring radio gets Back in the Driver's Seat with Heavy Listeners and Advertisersm including:
  • Accelerate the recovery of your core audience, win listening from your competitors, and capture heavy listening from new in-car commuters.
  • Ensure your brand is top of mind before listeners turn on the radio, so that you win the listening occasion and it doesn't go to Spotify, Sirius/XM or your competition across the street.
  • Lock in your success with our 360° strategic approach to station marketing that builds relationships with the Heavy Listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue.
Stations and groups can schedule a confidential assessment by contacting Andrew Curran, President and COO, DMR/Interactive acurran@dmrinterative.com.

Full blog post can be found here. https://endresult.wordpress.com/2020/05/18/radio-ready-for-new-waves-of-heavy-listeners/

* Impact of COVID-19 on Public Transportation in the Top 10 markets. Similar insights from other markets available on request.

New York: “New York City subway ridership is down 92 percent ... Long Island Rail Road ridership has decreased by 97 percent, Metro-North by 95 percent.” Link to this news coverage.

Los Angeles: “Countywide ridership has fallen 64 percent on Metro buses and 76 percent on rail since stay-at-home orders were issued.” Link to this news coverage.

Chicago: “CTA ridership has plunged about 80 percent since Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. Metra ridership is in an even bigger free-fall, projected to be down 97 percent in April.” Link to this news coverage.

San Francisco: “BART’s most optimistic budget projections for the next fiscal year, from this July through June 2021, show ridership averaging half of what it was before the coronavirus outbreak sent the economy into a tailspin, spokeswoman Alicia Trost said. Worst-case scenarios show ridership down 85 percent over the year. Even when those projections extend through the summer of 2022, Trost said, ‘None of them return back to normal levels.’” Link to this news coverage.

Dallas-Ft. Worth: “Compared with the same time period last year — weekday bus ridership decreased by 46%, light-rail ridership dropped 58% and Trinity Railway Express ridership declined 71%, according to Dallas Area Rapid Transit.” Link to this news coverage

Houston-Galveston: "Bus ridership has plummeted since stay at home orders went into effect. METRO also hasn't been charging fares." Link to this news coverage.

Washington, DC: "Ridership at some stations currently totals just 1,200 people per weekday, less than 5% of normal traffic, Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld said in a statement." Link to this news coverage.

Atlanta: “MARTA — by far the state’s largest transit system — has been hard hit. In addition to the decline in bus passengers, train ridership is down nearly 80%.” Link to this news coverage.

Philadelphia: “Transit ridership was down 79% and Regional Rail ridership fell by 96% last month.” Link to this news coverage.

Boston: "The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the nation's fourth-busiest public transit system, is now running a modified Saturday schedule and has about 20% of its typical ridership on buses. On subways, ridership is just 8% of a typical pre-pandemic day." Link to this news coverage.

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