Radio executives have been very quiet on Voltair since the controversy began over a year ago. Not only did they not want to rub Nielsen the wrong way by admitting they had the unit, they didn’t want their competitors to know they were using it, just in case it was improving the ratings. Alfred Liggins is one of the few who’s never afraid to speak his mind. In a previous earnings call, Liggins admitted he was slow to warm to Voltair. Well, that wasn’t the case during his earnings call Thursday. He pretty much admitted Voltair has lead to increased ratings.
Back in August of 2015, Liggins admitted Radio One missed the Voltair revolution. “We’ve definitely had some ratings challenges. It’s been a perfect storm. A lot of stuff started going bad at the same time in markets with stations that have traditionly been extraordinarily stable, well-rated, and we made no changes. One of the big controversy’s in the industry is this issue with Voltair, Nielsen, and PPM. Quite frankly, most people in the industry believe that PPM has been undercounting radio listenership, and somewhere along the line a processor was created that boosts the PPM watermark and made it more susceptible to be picked up by the PPM technology, and quite frankly we missed that curve. Most of our competitors had a unit installed, in many of the big markets, which may have contributed to this across-the-board radio ratings decline. We’ve started to catch up on that. We’ve gotten involved in the Voltair game.”
Liggins is still the only radio CEO willing to publicly admit Voltair is having an impact on ratings. And it’s hard to ignore that fact. Nearly every public company reporting this week has been raving about ratings increases. How can that be? Could it be that Voltair not only improved ratings but it forced Arbitron to improve its product and everyone is benefiting. That’s what Liggins says.
On his earnings call, Liggins said, “We got our act together in terms of Voltair. Nielsen has since gotten their act together in putting a solution to the problem that Voltair was fixing. We saw the ratings improve and we knew it was going to take some time for that to cycle through to revenue.”
Liggins did say its been a host of things that have lead to a ratings turnaround in his markets. They did have several format competitors in their markets, so they changed formats and they also made management changes in underperforming markets. Liggins also said part of their revenue issue was being understaffed in the sales department. He says that should be resolved by the end of Q2.