Do Your Podcasts Hurt Your Ratings?

In the broadcast world, ratings are everything
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In the broadcast world, ratings are everything.

Recently, every trade publication in the industry has been talking about Nielsen and 25/7 Systems� Voltair. The majority of broadcasters in the Top 10 markets are currently using Voltair, while other markets have considered the product, yet haven�t deployed them yet. Nielsen�s latest webinar stated they do not support it, however, they are developing new encoders with an improved watermarking system. Meanwhile,Forbes.comreleased an article last week stating that radio has the most reach among media consumers in America. With Apple�s new feature of Apple Music (Beats1), Pandora, Spotify and all the other streaming services competing for radio�s listeners, it�s time for radio to take a step back and examine podcasting to determine if it�s a smart choice or not.

Each station has its target audience, just as podcasters do. Most podcasts target specific topics such as local sports, cooking, lifestyle and health. These shows are usually weekly or monthly, and require great length and longer time periods to interact with listeners prior to putting out the next episode. With radio, the conversation with the audience is immediate. You can call in to win tickets and prizes, speak with the host and even request your favorite song. With podcasting, you rely off of comments from previous shows, social media and other means of communication prior to the show being recorded.

Traditional radio shows and podcasts, contrary to popular assumption, are completely different platforms. Radio shows deliver real time interaction with current hot topics and breaking news. Podcasts can build an audience over time, but lack real time urgency. Podcasting is great, and many have had a ton of success utilizing them, but how can you prove �ratings?� How can an advertiser or client know which podcast is for them like they can for broadcasters? In radio, management relies on Nielsen to determine the station�s ratings while podcasters rely on subscribers and downloads. Questions currently asked about podcast downloads are:

�������How long does someone actually listen?

�������Do they finish the podcast? Do they skip through it?

But the question everyone should be asking is: Can we truly measure podcasts the same way we measure radio and TV? Being able to compare streaming services, podcasts, and broadcasting in the same form would be a giant step toward a truly meaningful ratings service.

Why would terrestrial radio want to put its News/Talk and Sport shows up as podcasts? Taking a full show as it aired and posting online can hurt that particular show.

For an industry that is driven by ratings, we are giving listeners another opportunity to listen without getting the PPM credit. Ratings are king; look at the controversy between Nielsen and Voltair. We count on ratings for everything: What songs/topics work well, how each day part is doing and let�s not forget that sales are primarily based off ratings.

This got me thinking as live and local radio hosts are always on social media posting the podcast version of their show that aired earlier that morning or afternoon. I would figure they would be promoting tomorrow�s show with topics and guests instead when they are actually getting PPM credit, not their podcast. I would argue that having your audience listen to a particular show as a podcast instead of its scheduled day part does more harm then good.

Podcasts have their subscribers and can tell how many people subscribe to the podcast or how many clicks the link received. I agree with posting interviews and best of segments for a podcast of a radio show, but don�t know about posting a full show just yet.

Both podcasts and live radio shows are unique, yet captivating, but radio depends on Nielsen PPM rating system for its success. Posting a show without earning any PPM credit is the same as turning off the transmitter for a station if their PPM encoder dies. It will be really interesting to see the future and how services will be measured equally.

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