COLUMBIA, MD -- For the first time in nearly four years, the general public will get a glimpse of Arbitron's ratings data for the Syracuse market. This, after the radio ratings giant reportedly announced that it will no longer "embargo" publicly-released ratings in certain markets. But it's just a glimpse -- some stations will be left off the list.
There's no announcement on Arbitron's own website, but two major national radio industry news websites -- AllAccess.com and Radio-Info.com -- are reporting Arbitron will release "topline" (all persons, age 12+) ratings data for every single market, for all reports released April 16 and beyond.
The only catch: the numbers released to the media and the general public will only include ratings data for stations that actually subscribe to the full ratings report. If a station doesn't subscribe, you won't see them on the list. That data is only provided directly to paying subscribers.
Arbitron's already been trying this "subscriber only" policy in a handful of markets... Utica-Rome has been among them. Check out our Utica-Rome Arbitron page and you'll notice the list only includes ratings for stations listed as subscribers on Arbitron's web site. (By contrast, Eastlan Ratings has allowed CNYRadio.com to share topline ratings for all stations in Syracuse and Utica-Rome -- subscribers, non-subscribers, and even non-commercial stations, which are typically excluded from Arbitron's main listings.)
Syracuse is a bit different: as a continuously measured market, there are four "full" ratings books per year, with monthly "Arbitrend" reports in between. Radio-Info's Tom Taylor points out that, in many markets, there are clients which only subscribe to the quarterly reports, so these stations will not appear in the public monthly rankings. That could be the case in Syracuse -- where only 14 stations are listed as subscribers right now.
The policy appears to be a compromise to allow the public to review ratings data, without "giving a free ride" to non-subscribers. But is the picture really that useful if certain stations are simply left out of the rankings? At least one consulting agency disagrees. Harker Research published a blog post entitled "Arbitron Shoots Own Foot," arguing that this new policy could ultimately hurt the radio industry more than it could help.
Do you applaud Arbitron for lifting the embargoes on markets like Syracuse? Or do you think the "subscriber only" policy makes it a moot point? Post your comments below via Facebook, or further below with your free CNYRadio.com login.