Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Yesterday’s article – New Coleman Insights Study of Questionable Value – received a lot of reader attention and several comments. We will feature the comments later this week. At the end of that article we mentioned that new analysis of Nielsen Audio estimates show many NPR News have increased their market penetration over the past three years.

Market penetration is determined by using Nielsen Audio’s Average Weekly Cume Rating.  It is a simple but powerful metric. Nielsen takes the number of people over the age of 6 in a metro area and divides it by a station’s estimated weekly cume listeners, over the age of six, to provide a percentage that measures the penetration of the station into the metro market.

For example, if a metro has 100,000 people over the age of 6 and a station has 10,000 weekly cumulative listeners, the Weekly Cume Rating 10.0%.  In other words, Nielsen estimates that the station has a 10.0% penetration into the market.

We took the Weekly Cume Ratings from May 2017, the most recent data available, and compared them with Nielsen data from May 2014 to establish a three-year trend.

Below are the top thirty stations, ranked by their May 2017 Weekly Cume Ratings. Of the 30 stations on the list, 21 (70%) are NPR News stations, 7 (23%) are Christian Contemporary Music (CCM), one is Triple A and one is Latin Pop.

Of the 21 NPR News stations, 18 (86%) increased their Market Penetration percentage, two stayed the same and one was down, comparing May 2017 and May 2014.

The big news is that seven of the 18 stations where the Cume Rating increased, were up by more than 20%.  (Increases of 20% or more are highlighted in yellow.) Stations with the largest increases of market penetration were WGBH, Boston (up 40%), WYPR, Baltimore (up 30%) and WNPR, Hartford (up 26%).

These NPR News stations are seeing remarkable increases in metro market penetration over the past three years. This is occurring despite the fact that overall radio listening has decreased one to two percent per year.

Not all formats are experiencing increases. Of the seven CCM stations in the top thirty, four increased market penetration and three were down from 2014 to 2017. Tomorrow will look at the market penetration trends for Classical, Jazz and Triple A stations.

We’ve broken the top hirty into two sections of 15 stations each. On the left is the chart for stations one through 15. (The chart for stations 16 through 30 is below on the left.

Notable stations in the top 15 include WAMU, up 20% in three years, WBUR up 7% despite aggressive competition from WGBH and KCMP (89.3 The Current), the lone Triple A station that increased market penetration in the top thirty, up 10% in three years.

Two CCM stations in this group saw their market penetration decrease from 2014 TO 2017. KTIS (Minneapolis) was down 16% and KSBJ (Houston), typically the CCM station with the largest audience, was down 13%.

Among stations in the 16 through 30 chart, WGBH’s impressive 40% increase in market penetration show the wisdom of the decision to go head-to-head with WBUR paid off. WPLN (Nashville) was the only NPR News station where market penetration declined.

CCM station WAYF (Miami) had the biggest gain in the top thirty, up 66%, in part because a transmitter site move. Latin Pop station KNIA (Phoenix), a groovy ethic station with the cutest DJs on the planet, increased its market penetration by 11%.

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