Should Nielsen Consider Changing the Quarter Hour Credit Rule?
Recently, I wrote about the continuing decline of PUMM levels and how this should be a serious reminder about the importance of the industry’s commitment to talent and excellent execution
Competitive options for consumers are plentiful and the business needs to showcase its best work 100% of the time.
Broadcasters have figured out the need to play within the quarter hour system so they can maximize listening credit (although some are still sloppy and are losing listening credit).
One must wonder if the quarter hour credit rule is hampering the business and stifling creativity at a time when we need it most?
This rule goes back to the 1940’s and 1950’s when radio programs were 15 minutes and longer in length, so it made logical sense for ratings to be measured in 15-minute units, thence the birth of the quarter hour metric.
Since then, EVERYTHING has changed with radio distribution BUT the quarter hour remains the metric of record.
Measurement companies (Arbitron and now Nielsen) have given a strange measurement benefit to clients with the 5 minutes = 15 minutes crediting rule if the hard quarter hour rule is adhered to.
Thank You for that but when you evaluate raw listener data you see so many instances of lost quarter hour credit.
This becomes less of an issue in Diary markets as listeners are more likely to round to the quarter hour rather than record their listening precisely.
When looking at PPM detail data you see those heartbreaking instances of a morning show listener who listens from 6:11 am till 6:19 am yielding a big fat zero in listening credit.
In this example a listening occurred for 8 minutes but zero credit.
Or how about the example of listening from 3:56 PM to 404pm where another 8 minutes of listening vanishes into thin air.
The ratings highway is littered with examples such as this illustrating the fragility of the ratings system and illustrating the fact that every meter counts.
Just to put the fragility under closer spotlight if a market 25-54 population is 2 million plus the number of weekly meters is under 700.
There is no doubt that the many editing rules that Nielsen deploys helps broadcasters gain listening credit.
Audience measurement in radio and television faces many challenges when it comes to all listeners being measured.
Nielsen deserves credit after years of complaints from clients for rolling out their PPM Headphone adjustment in 2020 which resulted in a lift in ratings for all markets and formats.
Both Arbitron and Nielsen have looked at the quarter hour credit rule and the implications of changing this over the years by creating an impact analysis evaluating what the change would mean.
In those instances, the lift was viewed as not significant enough to warrant the change.
Isn’t the radio industry at a point where any lift should be viewed as a good thing?
I believe this is at the very least a conversation and analysis worth having.