Harker Research

You may have glanced at the headlines regarding the results of a major media study conducted by the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence at Ball State University’s Center for Media Design. The study found that the majority of video viewing was still via television. You can find the study here.

In a blog post on the Huffington Post web site, Susan Whiting, Vice Chair and Executive Vice President of the Nielsen Company, described the findings this way:

If you’ve come across news coverage of the media industry of late, you can be forgiven for believing that audiences are too consumed by their iPhones and the Internet to watch television. These days, suggestions that “TV is on the bubble” might lead you to think consumers are ditching their plasma screens for new platforms. There’s just one problem with this — it’s wrong. The fact is consumers are watching more television than ever before.

Video Viewing The table to the left (click to expand) is taken from an eMarketer article that you can read here. Mediapost reported the story this way.

So what does this have to do with radio?

Radio listening along with a long list of media was measured in the study, but you wouldn’t know it from all the stories. The follow-up reports have all focused on the strength of television or the modest growth in internet video viewing. Nothing about radio.

There are two significant points.

First, as Ms. Whiting points out, media usage is not a zero sum game. Growth in new media usage does not need to come at the expense of traditional media, like radio.

She puts it this way:

Another misconception among some in the industry is that media consumption is a zero-sum game — with television the potential loser. Yet recent research by Ball State University on behalf of the Center for Research Excellence confirms what we at Nielsen continue to find: that people keep adding more media to their lives without abandoning their TVs.

Consumers may watch television online and on mobile devices — while discussing their favorite shows on Facebook and Twitter — but they also watch more television the way they always have: on their televisions, inside their homes.


And other research suggests that radio is in the same boat as television. Despite all this talk about how Slacker, Pandora, satellite, ad nauseam are killing radio, people continue to listen to radio. The death of television (and radio) is just new media puffery.

The second point is that radio is so far off the radar screen that none of the stories that reported the study findings bothered to even raise the issue of radio. Radio today is absolutely invisible. We simply do not exist in the minds of industry insiders.

And we have only ourselves to blame.

Where are our leaders? Who speaks for radio? This media study was funded by Nielsen. Nielsen is out there pointing out the strength of television. Where is Arbitron? Has Arbitron come to the defense of radio? What study has Arbitron done showing the continued strength of radio?

Where is the RAB? Oh yes, the Radio Ad Lab. That’s their contribution. Engagement, Emotion, and the Power of Radio. This the latest example of how out of touch we find the RAB today. It might have been an interesting study twenty years ago, but radio today is fighting for relevance and a place among our new competitors. We don’t need a geeky academic study. We need to prove that people are still using the medium.

Where is the leadership? Who speaks for radio?

The NAB? Television has always dominated the attention of the NAB. That’s why the NRBA, National Radio Broadcasters Association was created in the 1980s. The NAB ran the NRBA out of business, but maybe it is time for a new radio organization that understands the fight we’re in.

We need leadership. We need someone willing to defend radio and put it back on the radar screen.

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