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Networks Say Ad Buyers Should Discard Spring Survey

Radio syndicators say data from before the pandemic are a more accurate basis for business

radio listening Image from the Westwood One website
Image from the Westwood One website

Leading U.S. radio networks are urging buyers and sellers of network and national radio commercials to use the fall 2019 ratings as their reference, essentially asking them to ignore the upcoming spring 2020 nationwide data.

“The Network Radio Research Council (NRRC) is recommending that all network/national buying and selling be based on the Fall 2019 Nationwide survey, which is the latest data available prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” it stated.

“The NRRC’s recommendation follows a statement from Nielsen that future buying and planning decisions should not be made using COVID-19 impacted audience estimates, which includes the upcoming Spring 2020 Nationwide survey.”

The NRRC is a group of syndicators and other companies with an interest in accurate national radio audience measurement. Its members include AdLarge Media, American Urban Radio Networks, Crystal Media Networks, Premiere Radio Networks, Sun Broadcast Group, United Stations Radio Networks and Westwood One.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented divergence of traditional patterns of media consumption, including, AM/FM listening and the streaming of audio,” the group stated.

“Listening behaviors were significantly altered starting in mid-March 2020, as the public adjusted to remote work environments and shelter-at-home mandates across the United States. The broadcast month of April represents the first month of Nielsen’s Spring 2020 [April-May-June] Nationwide survey. Each month subsequent to April has demonstrated consistent increases in listening, and there is confidence listenership will continue to stabilize and approach pre-Covid-19 levels.”

The group says the Fall 2019 Nationwide book “represents the best solution for the upcoming 2021 network radio upfront and Q4 scatter buys.”

The group quoted this statement from Nielsen: “Given the anomalous nature of audience behavior during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, it is Nielsen’s position that future buying and planning decisions for periods that fall outside the COVID-19 crisis should not be made using COVID-19 impacted audience estimates.”