Pointing to the close cooperation and scale of investment for the study by Arbitron and Media Monitors, a research company owned by Clear Channel, Boyle wrote: "We find it a potential positive for PPM that a CCU-owned company cooperated with ARB to put out a major radio study that greatly relied on PPM data."
Barring an entry by AC Nielsen into radio research, which Boyle characterized as a "long shot," he's hopeful that Clear Channel will utilize PPM ratings by year's-end. Clear Channel is leading a lengthy industry audit of different measurement devices, including Arbitron's PPM, but it has been criticized by media buyers and other radio companies for moving too slowly. Clear Channel counters that Arbitron's PPM is not ready for mass deployment, and has not received accreditation from the Media Research Council (MRC).
Regardless of the implications for radio ratings, the findings of last winter's study are good news for radio. They indicate higher-than-expected rates of audience listening during commercial breaks. Advertisers and radio broadcasters have assumed that listeners skip around the radio dial much like they channel surf on TV. But channel-surfing seems much less widespread among radio listeners. The study tracked almost 94,000 commercial breaks in the Houston broadcast area, and found that during a one-minute-long break, audience retention was a remarkable 99.6 percent. Over a six-minute pod, audience retention was still high, at 87.9 percent.