Radio’s Super Bowl


I was on a conference call the other day. At one point, I congratulated the PD of this top-rated station on their fantastic December.

Like almost every station that goes all-Christmas music, their December numbers were through the roof.

That’s when the GM informed me that it means nothing at all when it comes to producing revenue.


Doubling or tripling the cume for several weeks means nothing? Reaching more than half of the total population in your city on one station means nothing?

It’s not their fault; as he told me, buyers discount that month, saying it’s “special programming” or “transitory.”

They’re not even “allowed” to include December in their 7-month rolling averages.

This could only happen in Radio.

I could understand this if it was the first time, but the all-Christmas music tactic has been used now for years. It’s predictable. It’s been substantiated and reproduced in market after market. It’s not a fluke, and no one — including the buyers — is claiming it is.

Still, Radio can’t command a premium for spots on this station, at least not national spots.

If you turned on your TV Sunday, you saw Super Bowl coverage. It began at 7am mountain time, and was still running at 9:30pm.

And every spot within that coverage cost more than normal. The spots closest to, or within, the actual game itself averaged over $3.5 million for 30 seconds, and they were sold out months ago.

It costs a lot of money to reach so many people.

NBC didn’t apologize for hyping the game, or stretching out the pre-game and half-time shows so they could run more advertising.

They didn’t admit that after last year’s Super Bowl, FOX’s ratings reverted to “normal” so this “transitory” event might not be worth what they were charging.

CBS and ABC didn’t try to persuade advertisers that the ratings for the Super Bowl are bogus.

Only Radio would permit that kind of argument.

Why do we let buyers tell us that creating programming that doubles and triples cume numbers isn’t worth extra money?

Why doesn’t Arbitron provide supporting evidence that helps these stations make more for December programming?

When are we, as an industry, going to stop under-cutting our own programming success?

When are we going to call the “buyers” bluff and begin demanding what our ratings deserve?

We’re already the cheapest of the mass media, and this is indefensible.