Nielsen studying PPM headphone usage problems

In an article exclusive to InsideRadio reporter Paul Heine writes that Nielsen Ratings will examine the problems associated with PPM devices & headphone usage.  Broadcasters have been complaining for some time now that headphone usage with these devices is not always clear to participants & that ratings are not getting accurately tabulated from those users with wired or Bluetooth & other wireless headphones.  The line in/line out jacks are not always explained that well to diary users & due to this, rating results might not include some who prefer headphone listening.  Nielsen will study both radio & online listening to determine how much of a factor this occurrence might skew results. The organization plans to release the study results some time in 2020.  Nielsen points out that nearly all of the listening to radio via wireless headphones is to the streams of the broadcast content.  The study results will be used to adjust ratings to better reflect an accurate picture of all users to station on-air & online stream listening.  Should the survey show that some amount of radio listening is occurring on headphones that isn’t already being captured by the PPM, Nielsen audience listening estimates would be adjusted upward by that amount to compensate for the uncaptured listening. This would augment whatever amount of headphone listening is already being recorded by the PPM.  The study will also break down headphone usage by demo & format.  These findings would also be factored into the model of how Nielsen accounts for headphone listening in the future. Ratings could be adjusted accordingly, based on those format-specific findings.  In future, Nielsen plans to conduct a yearly survey to take into account headphone listening to ensure ratings reflect as much accuracy as possible.

Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening

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