Radio Ratings

I’ve been curious about radio ratings in my local market, as well as nation-wide. I have searched the internet and found several sites that have Arbitron ratings available, but only if you pay to subscribe. My question is, why are television ratings readily available for free while radio ratings are so difficult to access?

Good question.
Don’t know the answer except that Arbitron and Neilsen are two different systems.
Radio actually has two different rating systems. The other one is Scarborough but, instead of flat out ratings, it will tell “stories.”
How many listeners of station X ages 27-54 own a house of $100,000 or more?
How many women listeners of station Y ages 34+ bought a car last year?
You might try them, but I don’t know if their ratings are online either.

You can find the most general ratings (12+ = everyone over 12 years) at
R & R Online
As far as breaking down the ratings to particular demographics, you have to buy “The Book”.
The ratings that advertisers covet are for specific demos. Females 18-35, males 35-49, etc. They look for a station which has a format which attracts the demos that are most likely to buy their product.
Radio breaks their ratings down into dayparts, i.e Morning Drive (prime time), afternoon drive, etc. With radio, you pretty much have programming which appeals to a specific demo on all the time. They also only do their ratings quarterly.
I think most television advertisers are more interested in particular shows to target their demos. The audience changes throughout the day, often in half hour or 1 hour blocks.
It is kind of apples and oranges.
Anyway check out R&R Online and you can get a bit of info.

My wife and I participated in the Arbitron rating service in the Seattle area. We often received goodies like concert tickets and T-shirts from radio stations hoping we would list them on the surveys. Arbitron even promoted the free stuff as one of the benefits of being a member.

What city do you live in? Many newspapers carry radio ratings…some like the Chicago Sun-Times, even have a full time Radio Columnist Rob Feder, who reports on the rating each quarter. Maybe a doper from where you’re from can point a columnist out to you…

Billboard magazine used to print out the ratings for each market. They didn’t break them down by dayparts, unfortunately. I’m not sure if they still report ratings by city…pick up an issue!

Rochester, NY. There is no regular radio ratings report in the paper that I have seen.

I work on the board of a local Public TV station. We cannot get access to television ratings because we don’t have the budget to subscribe to Nielsen.
Television ratings Nielsen are not really readily available for free.
What and Arbitron allow the press to publish (what you see in the paper or in R&R) are total audience numbers. These numbers are nice to look at, but are next to useless when you’re trying to budget/target advertising for a particular audience. Nielsen and Arbitron know this. I believe that’s one reason they allow those numbers to be published.
If you should use those numbers to break down audience sampling you had better be able to prove you (or the company you represent) paid for them. Otherwise you’ll be in a court of law.

So the ratings are not available for free. What’s available to the press is general total audience numbers. Newspapers seem to favor printing the TV numbers.

And I did not preview my quickly typed response.

Anyway, the hard numbers you need to justify an advertising buy are not available to the public.

The general numbers of your local radio stations which CAN be used probably won’t get much play unless you’re in a top 10 population area.
If your local paper has an “art critic” (read the local movie critic, restaurant critic and play critic who can get a little extra money by throwing in a radio column every now and then) you might have better access to your local numbers.