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When a 0.3 Rating Is Not a 0.3 Rating

August 15, 2012

Sales and programming teams sometimes speak different languages.  The sales team wants higher ratings, while the programming team wants bigger shares.  However, ratings and shares don’t always rise and fall in sync with each other.

Let me back up and briefly explain ratings vs. shares.  Both are percentages.  The difference between the two is the universe we’re talking about.  Ratings represent a given outlet’s audience divided by the population.  Shares represent a given outlet’s audience divided by all usage of that medium.

So, for example, if market radio listening decreases by 10% but your station maintains its same audience, your rating will stay the same while your share will grow by 10%.  That’s because the population hasn’t changed but the pie of radio listening has gotten smaller.  If you maintain your audience while everybody else loses audience, you’ve got a bigger piece of that pie.  Yummy!

Now let’s get back to my first point: The sales team wants higher ratings, while the programming team wants bigger shares.  The challenge for programmers, then, is how to play with your schedule so that ratings grow without sacrificing share.  In order to do this, you have to understand why ratings cannot be taken at face value.

Ratings are rounded to one decimal place.  An AQH rating of 0.3 means that 0.3% of the population is listening to that station in a quarter-hour within the specified daypart.  However, due to rounding, a rating of 0.3 could be anywhere from 0.2500 to 0.3499 – that’s a 40% difference!  And, if your unrounded rating is 0.3499, a very small increase in AQH persons could get you to a 0.4.  That means the sales department can justify rates of 33% more!

Once you’ve zeroed in on a daypart that doesn’t need too much to bump up to the next rating, then you can go back to shares and break out your audience flow by quarter-hour to identify areas for growth.  Maybe you’re doing a feature that isn’t popular with your audience.  Or maybe you could tweak your stop sets to keep your listeners from going to the competition.  But keep in mind, if your share is dropping along with your format group’s share, it may be a lifestyle habit that your programming won’t affect.

“This sounds great, how do I do it?” you might ask.  Well, how convenient, we’ve recently debuted a service that does just that!  It’s called the Ratings Booster, and it’s got color coding and other nifty stuff to make it as easy to use as possible.  We’d love to demonstrate it for you.  Just give me a holler at 410‑295‑6619 x15 or adoyle@researchdirectorinc.com.   I look forward to hearing from you!

-Anne Doyle, Programming Research Consultant