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What Do The Big Groups Think Of The Deal?

12-18-2012

Radio group heads we spoke to were in a wait-and-see mode yesterday after the announcement was made that Nielsen would be purchasing Arbitron. Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan told Radio Ink, “We think it’s a step in the right direction that Nielsen recognizes that radio, TV, and digital are the top three critical media to marketers, and that this combination has the potential to offer broader insights and better measurement across multiple platforms." And digital may be the key component to this deal for radio.

Arbitron has consistently stated it's been working on a measurement platform that would give advertisers a true number of radio listeners. That number would include over-the-air and online totals. Everyone agrees that listening is migrating to mobile devices and tablets and without that true combined number that can be easily presented to advertisers in an understandable and reliable presentation, radio pretty much gets robbed of those listeners.

Nielsen CEO David Calhoun spoke a lot about "streaming audio" and the importance of making that measurement platform happen for the radio industry. And Nielson has announced several digital partnerships, including one this week with Twitter, that certainly benefit its TV clients.

Then, of course, there's the Pandora problem. Some on the call yesterday seemed to think the radio industry was giving Arbitron grief about the possibility Arbitron would measure pure-play Internet companies. Radio is Arbitron's Golden Goose and Pandora's stated objective is too take revenue away from radio. Seems quite logical the radio industry would have a little problem with Arbitron providing a service to a direct competitor when it was radio that helped build a company that was ultimately sold for $1.2-plus billion.

Here's what soon-to-be Arbitron CEO Sean Creamer said about the Internet "disrupters." "Arbitron's job is to measure radio no matter how radio is defined. We need to measure pure-plays. We never said we would not measure anyone." Creamer said the marketplace is working out how radio is defined, clearly leaving the door open to measure Pandora and all other Internet radio companies.

At the end of the day, the major issues that the radio industry wants Arbitron to fix are still on the table. They are small sample sizes, wild swings in the data, and cross-platform measurement. Not to mention the cost. If those issues get fixed by Nielsen and the revenue that comes to radio increases, December 18 will have been a good day for radio. If one or two years from now the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council is still concerned about the same issues it seems its been concerned about for years, December 18 will go down in the record books as just another day.



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