Consumers Say Fewer Commercials Lead to More Radio Listening According to
New Arbitron/Edison Media Research Study
Most Listeners Say Commercials Are a 'Fair Price to Pay' for Free Radio
NEW YORK, May 4, 2005 - Forty-seven percent of consumers say that they
would listen to a radio station "a lot more" if that station had noticeably
fewer commercial breaks, while 44 percent say that they would listen "a lot
more" if that station had shorter commercial breaks. These findings are from
a new study of consumer attitudes toward radio commercials conducted by Arbitron Inc. (ARB) and Edison Media Research.
The study also reveals that more than eight in 10 Americans say that
listening to commercials is a "fair price to pay" for free radio
programming. In addition, a majority of listeners say they "never" tune away
from radio commercials while they are listening to the radio at work (63
percent) or at home (49 percent). Even while listening to the radio in a
car, where switching stations is usually easier, only one-third of listeners
say they "always" or "usually" change stations during a commercial break.
Relatively few radio listeners say that they typically switch the station
immediately upon hearing the beginning of a commercial break - six percent
of those listening at work say they switch immediately; 11 percent of home
listeners and 28 percent of those listening in a car do the same.
"The overwhelming majority of radio listeners continue to value the time-
honored trade of free radio programming in return for listening to
commercial messages," said Bill Rose, senior vice president, of Marketing
for U.S. Media Services, Arbitron Inc. "This study reveals that consumers
are beginning to notice stations with few spot breaks."
Just under one-quarter of respondents (23 percent) were aware of radio
stations that played noticeably fewer commercial breaks than they used to
and noticeably shorter commercial breaks than those stations used to (23
While 34 percent of radio listeners think radio has more commercials than
one year ago, that number is down from 41 percent in a similar study
conducted by Arbitron and Edison in 1999.
Fewer listeners today say that they are spending less time with radio
because of an increase in commercials. Overall, only 12 percent indicate
they are listening less to radio today due to a perceived increase in the
number of commercials. This compares to 19 percent in 1999.
"One of the key insights from this study is that a 'one size fits all' spot
load strategy may not be the best choice for every radio station," said Mr.
Rose. "We've seen differences, based on the age, gender, format preference
and location of listening, in how listeners respond to commercials and the
way they are scheduled."
According to the study, younger listeners (ages 12-24) are bothered more by
the quantity of commercials as opposed to how "annoying" they perceive those
commercials to be by a 58 to 33 percent margin. People age 25-54 also are
more bothered by the quantity (53 percent) than the quality of commercials
(37 percent). Older listeners (age 55 and older) are slightly more bothered
by annoying commercials (44 to 35 percent) than they are by the number of
"There is considerable evidence in this study that reductions in radio spots
loads should lead to greater time spent listening to radio -- as long as
these spot load reductions are noticeable and stations inform their
listeners of the changes," said Joe Lenski, executive vice president, Edison
Media Research. "Radio stations should continue to promote the fact that
they are providing free content to their listeners and that in the future,
with HDradio and other advances, even more free content will be available to
How the Study was Conducted
In March of 2005, 1,003 telephone interviews were conducted with Arbitron
radio diarykeepers from the Fall 2004 survey period. The sample was drawn to
represent a national overview of radio listeners in continuously measured
markets. The results from this survey were tracked against the previous
survey conducted in June 1999.
This latest study, as well as previous studies, may be downloaded free of
charge via the Arbitron and Edison Media Research Web sites at
About Edison Media Research
Edison Media Research conducts survey research and provides strategic
information to radio stations, television stations, newspapers, cable
networks, record labels, Internet companies and other media organizations.
Edison Media Research works with many of the largest American radio
ownership groups, including Entercom, ABC Radio, Infinity, Bonneville and
Westwood One, and also conducts strategic and perceptual research for a
broad array of companies including AOL/Time Warner, Yahoo!, Sony Music,
Princeton University, Northwestern University, Universal Music Group,
Time-Life Music and the Voice of America. Edison Media Research also
conducts research for successful radio stations in South America, Africa,
Asia, Canada and Europe.
Beginning in 2004, Edison Media Research conducts all exit polls and
election projections for the six major news organizations - ABC, CBS, CNN,
Fox, NBC and the Associated Press - and designed and operated the CNN
RealVote election projection system in 2002.
All of Edison Media Research's industry studies can be found on the
company's Web site at
http://www.edisonresearch.com and can be downloaded
free of charge.
Arbitron Inc. (ARB) is an international media and marketing research firm
serving radio broadcasters, cable companies, advertisers, advertising
agencies and outdoor advertising companies in the United States, Mexico and
Europe. Arbitron's core businesses are measuring network and local market
radio audiences across the United States; surveying the retail, media and
product patterns of local market consumers; and providing application
software used for analyzing media audience and marketing information data.
The Company has also developed the Portable People Meter (PPM), a new
technology for media and marketing research.
Arbitron's marketing and business units are supported by its research and
technology organization, located in Columbia, Maryland. Arbitron has
approximately 1,700 employees; its executive offices are located in New York
Through its Scarborough Research joint venture with VNU, Inc., Arbitron also
provides media and marketing research services to the broadcast television,
magazine, newspaper and online industries.
PPM(SM) is a service mark of Arbitron Inc. All other marks are properties of
their respective owners.
SOURCE Arbitron Inc.
both of KCSA Worldwide for Arbitron Inc.