ESPN 1000 blasts Nielsen for ratings undercount

ESPN Chicago

A rare correction and admission of error by Nielsen Audio Thursday wasn’t enough to satisfy WMVP 1000-AM after the ESPN Radio sports/talk station was shortchanged in the latest Chicago radio ratings.

Acknowledging that it had failed to credit ESPN 1000 for its streaming simulcast in the April audience survey, Nielsen re-issued its market report with revised figures that combined over-the-air and digital listenership.

Overall the station gained only one-tenth of a point, raising its total audience share from 1.2 percent to 1.3, and securing its ranking from a four-way tie for 25th to alone in 25th place.

Sources said the increase for ESPN 1000 was much more significant in key demographics, especially among men between 25 and 54. Shares for midday hosts David Kaplan and the team of Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic rose as much as 50 percent. (Nielsen guidelines prohibit publication of specific demographic data.)

Nielsen claimed no other stations were affected by the undercount.

Jim Pastor

Despite the correction, Jim Pastor, vice president and general manager of ESPN 1000 Chicago, said he wasn’t pleased with the process, calling Nielsen’s Portable People Meter technology “inadequate at best” in measuring listenership on digital devices.

“The real story here is that it’s remarkable Nielsen’s PPM device captured any digital listening at all,” Pastor told me. “By their own admission, PPM technology is inadequate at best when it comes to measuring digital.

“Our research shows that 66 percent of our listeners consume ESPN 1000 digitally each week. Yet because PPM is inferior at tracking digital, we rely on luck in order to get credit for those who listen on the ESPN app and various other streaming services.

“Sadly, we are judged each month on audience estimates that only represent the declining universe of fans that listen on traditional radio. We’re not alone. All of talk radio suffers.”

In response to a request for comment, Nielsen Audio released this statement:

Nielsen Audio audience estimates for WMVP-AM and WMVP-IA were eligible for Total Line Reporting for the April 2019 survey period, but were inadvertently reported separately in the originally released April 2019 Chicago Radio Market Report. Audience estimates for WMVP-AM and WMVP-IA have been combined in this revised report and reported with the call letters WMVP-AM. Audience estimates for other stations in the report are not affected.

We have released a revised April 2019 Chicago Radio Market Report on Thursday, May 23rd.

The integrity of Nielsen data is our highest priority and we have taken these steps to correct the situation and re-issue the data.

Thursday’s comment of the day: Derrick Blakley: Jerome McDonnell [host of "Worldview"] did a terrific job covering issues that aren't addressed anywhere else in local media, and not much on network TV these days, either. A loss. Jerome, your work was much appreciated and admired! What will cab drivers listen to during the noon hour now??