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April 19, 2014

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Study: Listeners Stick Around Through Commercial Breaks
A study released Thursday at the NAB Radio Show determined that radio retains an average of 92% of the listeners who are tuned in to a station one minute before the beginning of a commercial break. The study, which compared PPM listening data against Media Monitors advertising tracking data, surveyed 93,876 commercial breaks, studied breaks that varied in length from one to six minutes. Interestingly, the study found that the percentage of tune-out is worst in the middle of a break, regardless of how long the break length. However, the drop off between each minute tends to be fairly moderate, regardless of the break's length.

For example, the study found that 93.3% of listeners stick around through the first minute of a four-minute break, drops to 87.7% by the third minute, but jumps back to 89.7% by the fourth minute.

Broken down by the length of the break, a one-minute commercial break retains 99.6% of overall listeners, followed by 94.7% for a two-minute break, 88.5% for a three-minute break, 87.7% for a four-minute break, 89.4% for a five-minute pod, and 87.9% for a six-minute break. Averaged out, the percentage for all break lengths results in the 92% figure.

Not surprisingly, young listeners tend to tune out most; for the 12 - 17 year-old demo, the lowest-rated minute - the point at which the most listeners have tuned out - still results in 80.6% of listeners sticking around through the break. For the 35 - 54 age group, the lowest-rated minute is 90.6%.

The report also determined that the radio and advertising industries may be over-estimating how much listening takes place in the car. Study respondents who in the radio industry believed 44% of listening takes place in the car, while 53% of advertisers believe most listening takes place in an automobile. However, Arbitron diary-based results found that 35% of listening takes place in the car, versus 39% at home. By comparison, radio industry respondents believe 19% of listening takes place at home, while advertisers believe only 15% of listening takes place at home.

"People thing radio is a 'push-the-button' medium," said Coleman President Jon Coleman, who presented the study results. "We've built a perception that may be coming back to haunt us."


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