Mass Media Research: An Introduction - 9th Edition
Roger D. Wimmer & Joseph R. Dominick

Reading an Arbitron Ratings Book Page

Arbitron ratings data are now available only online; the company no longer publishes hard copy books.  However, from an historical perspective, we think it is important for students to see what the information looked like in the original books.  This information is taken from the 8th edition of Mass Media Research: An Introduction.


(Click on thumbnail for larger page.
Left click on the enlarged page to increase the size even more.
Copy, paste, and print the following information so you
follow along on the enlarged ratings page.)

This sample page is from the Spring 2004 Arbitron Denver–Boulder ratings book.  On page 4 of the report, Arbitron states that the Metro audience estimates are based on an in-tab diary sample of 2,930 (a response rate of only 29%). The page is taken from the Target Listener Trends—Persons 12+ (not all of the stations in the Denver market are shown on this sample page). Reading a radio ratings book is somewhat different from reading a television ratings book. We will use KOA, an AM news/talk station, to describe how to read this page.

First, notice that the stations are listed from top to bottom in alphabetical order. Next, the data are listed in five major columns for five different radio dayparts. The first column shows the total week data (Monday–Sunday, 6AM-MID), while the remaining four columns show other specific dayparts during the week. Notice that listed for each column are four pieces of information: Average Quarter-Hour people, shown as AQH (00); Average Quarter-Hour Cume, shown as Cume (00); followed by AQH rating (Rtg) and AQH share (Shr). Note that AQH (average quarter-hour) is listed in 100s; that is, “00” is eliminated from the reported data. For example, KOA’s AQH for Spring ’04 is listed as 197. This means that about 19,700 people age 12 and over were listening for at least 5 minutes during any given quarter-hour between 6 a.m. and midnight (this is up slightly from 18,200 in the Spring ’03 book).

The AQH Rtg (or rating) for KOA’s Spring ’04 book is .9, which means that the station attracts about .9% of all quarter-hour listening by people 12+ Monday–Sunday, 6 a.m. to midnight (equal to Spring ’03). KOA’s audience share for Spring ’04—6.4—is essentially the same as Spring ’03 when sampling error is considered. The Spring ’04 Arbitron book shows that KOA is a consistent radio station. KOA does show a high share of 6.7 in Summer ’03.

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