With its decision to stop measuring radio listening in nine smaller U.S. markets, Nielsen is left with a total of 253 radio markets, including 48 measured electronically by the PPM service and 205 tracked by paper and pencil ratings diaries.
Before the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the measurement giant estimated radio consumption in more than 300 metros, but that has been whittled down by about 16% in the ensuing years.
The reduction in markets is due to a lack of client demand in smaller markets as broadcasters opt out of costly ratings surveys or take their business to Eastlan, which has quietly grown to measure roughly 450 subscribing radio stations in 90 U.S. markets by offering a lower cost alternative. Most of Eastlan’s business is done in small or medium-sized metros.
In fact, two of the markets being cancelled by Nielsen are already measured by Eastlan: Bend, OR and Twin Falls-Sun Valley, ID. Eastlan President & CEO Mike Gould says the company expects to continue to measure both markets and is evaluating whether to pick up any of the other seven markets being discarded by Nielsen, which include Battle Creek, MI; Billings, MT; Grand Junction, CO; New Bedford-Fall River, MA; Texarkana, TX-AR; Tri-Cities, WA (Richland-Kennewick-Pasco); and Yakima, WA.
“The other markets are all on our radar,” Gould told Inside Radio. “We’d like to be there but obviously [we] will need a subscriber.”
And therein lays the reason why Nielsen is exiting the nine metros. “Consistent with our past practice, we review our markets on a periodic basis and close markets when there is a lack of financial support,” Nielsen Audio Managing Director Brad Kelly says. In each case there simply wasn't enough client demand to continue.
In most of the cancelled metros, Nielsen had only two or three subscribers, including Townsquare Media which operates in most of the markets. All nine markets are measured two times per year.
While Nielsen will no longer provide ratings reports in these markets, listening in the individual counties that make up the metros will still be reflected in thde company’s national services. “However, the sample size for the counties that were part of the metro may be smaller,” Kelly said.
Kelly also provided some clarification about the market closures and a restructuring Nielsen announced July 7 that will reduce the company’s global workforce by about 3,500 employees and deliver roughly $250 million in annual savings. “The layoffs and market closure decisions were made independent of one another but related to the company-wide cost reduction decision making process announced previously,” Kelly said.