Pandora’s audience metrics show growth across the board

Pandora released its three-point Audience Metrics report for November this morning. The statistics reveal month-over-month growth in each category.

The most scrutinized part of Pandora’s monthly measurement drumbeat is the Active Listeners statistic. That number has received especially obsessive attention since mid-September when iTunes Radio launched. The two Internet radio platforms are widely regarded as direct competitors, pitting a pioneering indie (Pandora) against a richly resourced tech behemoth (Apple).

The good news for anyone bullish on Pandora is that the company regained most of the active listeners that it lost in October. Brian McAndrews, CEO, attributed the October dip to iTunes Radio tire-kicking in a recent earnings call, and he predicted the number would recover in November. The McAndrews Stabilization Theory seems to be proved out in today’s report. November ended with 72.4-million active listeners, up from 70.9-million in October, and compared to 72.7-million in September.

“Bullish” is the right word, as a quick look at Wall Street shows P stock apparently responding to the report with a sharp 5% gain at mid-day.

The obvious near-term conclusion within the Apple-vs.-Pandora framework, is that iTunes Radio is not the Pandora-killer that many predicted. Of course, competitive standings can change in the longer term.

Pandora’s listener hours increased slightly from October’s 1.47-billion to 1.49-billion in November. (Up from 1.36-billion in September.)

The controversial “Share of total listening” metric showed continued penetration growth. November’s share was 8.44 percent of total listening, up from 8.06% in October and 7.77% in September. That proprietary measurement has weathered criticism from radio groups which claim it should be cut roughly in half. (As Jennifer Lane points out, that would still be a huge share.) There is no integrated measurement system that includes Pandora listening with broadcast listening. In the recent earnings call, McAndrews wished for that situation to change, and stated that Nielsen Audio (formerly Arbitron) wished for an integrated solution also. 

Brad Hill