In a demonstration of how volatile audience measurement can be, the removal of just four households from Nielsen’s Los Angeles radio ratings sample has led to a restatement of audience estimates for the market and a significant reranking of at least one broadcast group’s stations in the nation’s second-largest radio market. The change is especially volatile given the kind of homes and stations impacted: Hispanic ones.
Nielsen has historically been under the microscope for its representation of minority viewers in its audience measurement samples, so the removal of some Hispanic household representation in a heavily Hispanic market like Los Angeles merits attention.
For its part, Nielsen says the move was made purely for “quality” reasons and that the households that were removed did not live up to its quality control standards, but that the result is that the representation of Hispanic persons and households in its sample continues to meet its targets.
“The integrity of our data is paramount and that is why Nielsen removed four homes from the Los Angeles PPM panel effective with the April monthly audio currency data,” a Nielsen spokesperson stated. PPM stands for “portable people meter,” which is a portable device panelists carry with them to detect what audio signals they exposed to throughout their day.
“An internal review concluded that these homes did not meet our data quality and integrity standards,” the spokesperson continued, adding, “We conducted an analysis of data from October 2017 to March 2018 and determined that the data for these months will be reissued without these homes included.”
The spokesperson said Nielsen reviewed the composition and characteristics of the balance of its Los Angeles panel and deteremined it meets its standards.
Nielsen’s sample target for Hispanic persons 6 years and older in Los Angeles is 1,192 and its average daily “in-tab” -- or the portion of its sample reporting useable data -- is 1,475.
“Nielsen stands behind the quality and integrity of the Los Angeles radio listening estimates,” the spokesperson said.
At least one Spanish-language radio broadcaster in the market, Spanish Broadcasting System, has called the change “disconcerting,” characterizing it as “sweeping, retroactive changes to its audience measurement service based on an internal decision.”
In a statement, SBS General Counsel Richard Lara, decribed Nielsen’s actions as “unilateral, and seemingly, discriminatory,” and said it resulted in restated rating and rankings that are “unreliable, and inaccurately suggest that Spanish-language stations have dropped from top five rankings to number 15 or lower. This cannot stand.”