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Mid-days Are Surprisingly Important

nielsen chart kh blog 350wRecently, Nielsen Audio released its first annual “State of the Media: Audio Today” report — its new version of Arbitron’s venerable annual “Radio Today” reports.

One interesting finding — one that I knew in the back of my mind but never fully focused on — is the importance of the “workday” (i.e., Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm) daypart.

As you may recall, we learned a few years ago during Arbitron’s switch from diaries to PPMs (Portable People Meters) that diarykeepers apparently (A) exaggerate how much time they spend listening to drive-time radio and (B) underestimate how much time they spend listening to radio in the middle of the day.

But the hard numbers, as seen in this new Nielsen Audio report, are, to me, are surprisingly vivid:

According to Nielsen, between 9am and 5pm on weekdays, nationally, AM/FM radio has an AQH rating of about 13 — in other words, at the average moment, about 13% of the population is listening to AM/FM radio. Multiplied by a U.S. age-12+ population of about 250 million, times 40 hours in the daypart per week, that represents about 1.3 billion hours of radio listening per week.

Drive times, by comparison, are surprisingly less significant: On weekdays between 6-9am and 5-7pm, AM/FM radio seems to have an AQH rating of about 11. (The hours of 7-9am and 5-6pm are very strong, but the average is brought down by the 6-7am and 6-7pm hours.) Doing the same math as above, using 25 hours in that daypart per week, that adds up to about .7 billion hours of radio listening per week.

In other words, the workday represents almost *twice* as much radio listening as morning and afternoon drive times combined!

Similarly, weekday evenings (7pm-12m) comprise about .3 billion hours per week, weekends (6am-12m) contribute about .65 billion hours of listening, and overnights (Mon.-Sun. 12m-6am) add another .2 billion hours.

So the total amount of U.S. AM/FM radio listening per week is about 3 billion hours — and the “workday” daypart comprises about 42% of the total. (In decreasing order of importance, the other dayparts are drive times at 22% of the total, weekends at 21%, weekday evenings at 9%, and overnights at 6%.)

Proposed conclusion: Just as advertisers should not underestimate the power of radio advertising, so should radio not underestimate the importance of the “workday” daypart.

(And also note that you may not want to consider the weekend to be hours you can simply blow off, since the weekend probably contributes as many hours of listening to your station as your drive times, combined, do.)

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Kurt Hanson

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