Study: Urban Formats Doing Well With PPM?

For Urban stations, the transition to the portable people meter ratings service has been rocky, punctuated by accusations that the new service undercounts minority audiences. Yet a recent study by Research Director Inc. and Inside Radio partly challenges that assertion with the finding that Urban Adult Contemporary radio formats have the highest share of listening per market with an average 7.8 overall share among persons six years and older.

The younger-skewing Urban Contemporary format didn’t fare as well, with a 4.2 overall share, putting it at No. 14 out of 22 formats.

Adult Contemporary had the next highest listening share with a 7.5, followed by News/Talk (6.7), Country (6.4), Contemporary Hit Radio (6.0), and Regional Mexican (5.3).

Conducted in November, the study analyzed ratings for four months (July, August, September and October 2009) from 547 radio stations in 16 PPM markets. The analysis included some of the nation’s largest markets, many of which are the top-ranked African-American markets such New York (1), Chicago (2), Atlanta (3), Washington, D.C. (4) and Philadelphia (5).

Despite the Urban AC’s top-rated status, Urban stations have lost ratings share. An earlier study by Research Director Inc. found that Urban AC station ratings declined 17.2 percent and Urban stations lost 14.4 percent.

“You have to look at how well [Urban formats] did in the diary to see it actually has lost the most shares among the major formats,” said Deon Levingston, vp and general manager of Inner City Broadcasting in New York, one of the biggest critics of the PPM.

In average share per station, Urban formats, which average two per market in 11 markets, hold their own. At a 3.9 average share Urban AC stations are tied with CHR and News stations. Urban Contemporary stations had a 3.2 average share, trailing AD, Adult Hits, Classic Rock, Hot AC, News/Talk and Rhythmic CHR.

While Urban stations may be doing well in the ratings, stations are often “undervalued” by advertisers, pulling a lower percentge of the advertising dollars than their mainstream counterparts. According to BIA/Kelsey, the average Urban station has a “power ratio” of 0.8, a number that has held steady for the past five years.