The quote below appeared last week in the Tom Taylor NOW newsletter [link] immediately caught my interest:
"One of the emerging trends from Nielsen’s PPMs is that we’re seeing some big-market public radio news/talkers start to really flex their muscles. The public radio news/talk wave continues.”
If there has been a wave, I missed it. As we have been reporting, the number of estimated weekly cumulative listeners, according to Nielsen Audio, has been leveling off or dropping a bit at most NPR News/Talk since the big escalation during and after the 2016 election. However, ratings-tracker Huff is watching a different metric and his observation appears to be correct.
As we reported last week [link], our key metric is "Weekly Cumulative Persons" and Huff uses "Average-Quarter-Hour Share" percentage. AQH share is derived from from the weekly cume and then presented as a percentage of the total listening in the market. Both metrics are important but we follow weekly listeners because it seems better suited to member-supported noncommercial broadcasting.
Huff’s point is that, in many markets, the AQH share for NPR News/Talk stations now leads the AQH share commercial News/Talk stations. While this sounds like an obscure factoid, it is a big deal because it was unthinkable until recently.
We examined some of the markets that Huff mentioned:
On the left are the noncom ratings for Seattle. KUOW and KNKX’s gains are obvious and very welcome. In fact, almost every noncom station gained weekly listeners compare with January 2017.
The chart on the right compares KUOW and KNKX with its two Seattle commercial News/Talk competitors: Bonneville’s KIRO-FM and Sinclair’s KOMO AM/FM. Note that in February 2016 both commercial stations led KUOW in AQH share and weekly cume. In January 2018 KUOW leads both stations in both metrics.
It is the same situation in Baltimore. WYPR had one of its highest total of estimated weekly listeners ever. DC’s WAMU held steady. Classical WBJC lost some ground.
When comparing WYPR and commercial competitor WBAL-AM, there has also been a complete reversal since February 2016.
In Washington, DC, WTOP AM/FM has extended its lead over defacto NPR News flagship WAMU. WTOP had an estimated 1,268,900 weekly listeners and an AQH share of 10.6 in January 2018. WAMU had a 9.3 AQH share.
In the Denver-Boulder metro (another situation mentioned by Chris Huff) KCFR now leads iHeart’s KOA AM/FM in both weekly listeners and AQH share. KUNC from Greeley, outside of the Denver metro, had one its best books ever, up 20% from a year ago.
MPR’s News/Talk KNOW now leads Entercom/CBS heritage News/Talker WCCO AM/FM, in both estimated weekly listeners and AQH share.
According to Nielsen, WCCO had an AQH share of 5.0 and an estimated weekly cume of 270,600. KNOW’s AQH share was 5.9.
In Boston iHeart’s WBZ-AM (606,700) is leads both WBUR (453,600) and WGBH (429,600) in estimated weekly listeners.
However, if listeners to WBUR’s and WGBH are hypothetically combined, NPR News/Talk would easily top WBZ. WBUR and WGBH were tied in Janaury book at a 4.9 in AQH share. WBZ had a 5.2 AQH share.