This morning, reader (@SmartySampson) alerted me to Josh Innes’ Tweets about the streaming ratings – in which WIP is getting abused by 97.5 – being important but flawed. Josh and I had a cordial(!) exchange. We’re mostly in agreement that the Nielsen system for measuring ratings is extremely flawed given that it’s based on very small sample sizes of ones and tens of people. But I also think you can’t cherry pick when you do and don’t want to use its findings. Josh was all too eager to proclaim ratings victories of around 0.5-1.0 points over Mike Missanelli last year. But now that he’s losing, and getting beat in the stream by almost 3 full points, suddenly the system is flawed. The fact is, the stream is measured from the same pool of people and in the same manner as over-the-air ratings– it just listens for a different tone coming out of a different box. So if you’re going to use one number, you have to use the other.
Innes informed me that Nielsen has developed a way to measure the stream directly – here’s the article, of which I’m embarrassed to say I was unaware – and they will soon give stations the ability to measure their hard stream numbers, and combine their OTA rating with the stream for a more accurate result (though it still sounds like there’s some fuzzy sampling going on). Innes then questioned the fact that 97.5’s streaming rating is nearly 30x greater than WIP’s, and wondered how that could be. I agree that it’s high, and sample size certainly comes into play here. But it’s no surprise that 97.5 would beat WIP on the stream by a substantial margin.
There are a few reasons.
First off, WIP’s demo is older and more prone to work outside or somewhere otherwise away from a desk. 97.5’s audience is younger and more likely to be working in an office, making them more likely to stream. This is a gross generalization, but I’d argue it’s generally accurate. There will of course be exceptions, so don’t bother commenting that you’re a 26-year-old lawyer who listens to Mike and Ike while going over case briefs.
But, content notwithstanding, equally important is the ease, or lack thereof, in using the respective streaming options. As you can see in the video, cueing up the WIP stream using Safari – which admittedly slowed things down a bit because it pauses many video ads to save processing power and battery – took roughly 85 seconds until I could hear Ike Reese’s gravely tones. 97.5’s? 8 seconds from URL bar to Rob Ellis. [If 8 Seconds To Ellis isn’t a band name by tomorrow, somebody is doing it wrong.]
And that’s just on desktop, where navigating is easier and quicker.
Let’s talk about mobile, where a majority of streams occur.
97.5 has its own app with a play button prominently featured.
WIP, being part of CBS (for now), uses the Radio.com app. So here’s what it’s like to find the “WIP” app compared to the 97.5 app.
There’s hurdle number one. The Average Joe looking for WIP will have to be aware that WIP lives in the generic Radio.com app, which WIP does promote on air.
Then you have to actually use the damn thing.
From here, assuming that you’re aware that WIP lives in this generic app complete with lefty rock stations, you can either scroll to find WIP, or click menu-sports and find it there.
Nothing in the Radio.com app itself is a deal-breaker, but I’d argue it’s a non-starter for many that searching for 94 WIP in the App Store yields no relevant results. [You can also listen to WIP in TuneIn Radio and iHeart Radio, but again, it’s generic and not immediately obvious that you can, you know, do that. I’m not even sure it’s promoted as such.] And even once you get both apps, you’re still an extra 2-3 clicks in the Radio.com app compared to the 97.5 app. People are dumb, and lazy. Just ask Google. Take a look at their homepage. Or Amazon’s. Neither are pretty, but both are effective because a cantaloupe could use them. Facebook just gave an entire presentation yesterday on why a webpage taking 10 seconds to load on mobile is a turn-off for many. It’s a tiny pain point, but one that disrupts a busy day. The same argument can be applied to these two apps. I do this for a living, and know where to look, and I myself have given up on WIP when attempting tune-in for a quick interview or conversation that someone tweeted me about, because there were just too many steps and ads. This only happened once with 97.5: the first time after they updated their site and asked me to login. This is a pain in the ass, but also probably a worthwhile trade-off for them: They get your data, and allow users to use Facebook or Twitter to login. I don’t think it’s anywhere near the level of annoyance as WIP’s video pop-up ads and confusing app environment. Do they probably lose some listeners because of the login requirement? Yes, but this is the same trade-off I make with surveys– I do better with 70% of people answering the questions, which generate revenue, than with 100% of people not answering any. For 97.5, the login request is obvious and a one-time hurdle. You know what you have to do to listen– sign up. Hardly ideal, but it’s a one-time issue compared to an every-time issue. Huge difference.
So, between the listening demo, desktop and mobile streaming options, and maybe even the content itself, it’s no surprise that 97.5 is winning big-time in streaming. Hard-measuring of raw streaming numbers will be a welcome change, but I’m not so sure it will do anything to boost WIP’s ratings. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it hurt them. THE MUSIC NOW: