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Online Radio Dominates the First PPM ‘Digital Radio’ Results

Four Internet streams from commercial stations had PPM numbers large enough to make local market reports in July.

When you and I talk about “digital radio,” we mean HD Radio or another broadcast transmission platform. But when Arbitron released the first findings about “digital radio” listening as measured in 11 markets by its new Portable People Meter, the top-performing channels were all online streams.

The audience measurement company defines digital radio as the Web streams of encoded stations, as well as the encoded air signals of HD Radio stations, both main and multicast.

Arbitron officials released the first PPM digital radio results at a meeting for program consultants that I attended in its Columbia, Md., location yesterday. Four Internet streams from commercial stations had PPM numbers large enough to make their local Arbitron Radio Market Reports for July: WBEB(FM) Philadelphia, WPLJ(FM), New York; WLTW(FM), New York; and KDAY(FM), Redondo Beach, Calif., part of the Los Angeles market.

PPM digital listening is a “workplace phenomenon and is concentrated among college-educated listeners,” said Arbitron’s Bill Rose. Online listening is almost exactly 50/50 divided between men and women, and skewed toward the 25–54 demo.

Of some 16,000 PPM panelists, some 1,200 listened to online radio in July. Online, in this case, so-called “digital” radio listening accounted for 7 percent of the total tune-in from encoded stations for the month.

Stations encoding for PPM total 287. Internet-only stations and podcasts are not measured by PPM.

Arbitron reminded me that it’s early days yet for online radio. Many stations are not matching their exact on-air broadcast schedule or not streaming at all because of the performance royalty situation. Rose said the results are consistent with Arbitron’s streaming media measurement partner, Comscore.