People Meters Catch Double Play

People are listening to a lot more radio stations in the evening than diary rating measurements pick up, according to Arbitron.

The ratings service's analysis of its own People Meter trial in Philadelphia shows people are being exposed to up to twice as many stations each day as they were reporting with diaries. While figures in morning drive are nearly identical, with the People Meter picking up 1.6 stations against 1.7 with the diary, users on the People Meter reported listening to an average of 2.8 stations between 10 AM-7 PM, including evening drive, and 3.1 stations after 7 PM.

The previous figures, using the diary system, were 1.8 stations between 10 AM-7 PM, and 1.5 stations after 7.

Arbitron said members of its panel were very loyal in "undocking" their People Meters on weekends and reporting good numbers. These had the same pattern as the weekday numbers, although less dramatic. The People Meter caught people listening to 2.0 stations, on average, from 3-7 PM, and 1.9 stations at night, against the 1.3 stations caught with the diary.

The Portable People Meter clips to a belt, and users are awarded points for the time spent wearing it. A base station in users' home recharges the battery. It links with encoders at broadcasters. National ratings are not yet available, because the People Meters are still undergoing a market trial.

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