Arbitron Makes It Official: Most Listened To Satellite Channels

Written Oct. 23, 2007 by Sean Ross in Satellite with 0 Comments

There are some fascinating numbers among Arbitron's just-released Satellite Ratings Report, many of which confirm last week's then-anecdotal observation that -- for all its depth -- satellite listeners are as interested in the hits as anybody else; many of the biggest channels are indeed mainstream formats.

Sirius has six channels that manage an AQH rating of 0.01 or, in one case, more. (The latter, not surprisingly, is Howard Stern's Stern 100 with an 0.04, followed by Stern 101 with an 0.01.) XM has 15 that manage an 0.01 AQH rating, including Opie & Anthony's "The Virus."

Sirius has its highest non-Stern AQH numbers for New Country, Top 40 "Sirius Hits 1," Modern Rock "Octane," and '90s and Now Hot AC "The Pulse." Of the service's Classic Rock channels, Classic Vinyl gets 2-1/2 times the AQH of the deep tracks "The Vault." (The proportion is similar on XM.)

XM does a little better as far as eclectic offerings go. Its best AQH number is for '80s/'90s/now Mainstream AC "The Blend," and Modern AC "Flight 26." But the next highest numbers are for the Classic Country "Willie's Place." The highest rated channels also include Oldies channels "'50s on 5," "60s on 6," "'70s on 7," and "''80s on 8," as well as Country "Highway 16," the Top 40 "Top 20 on 20," Soft AC "The Heart," Classic Rock "Top Tracks," newer Classic Rock "Big Tracks," Urban AC "Suite 62," Smooth Jazz "Watercolors," Fox News, and Standards/Easy Listening hybrid "Escape".

Where there is a turn toward the eclectic here, incidentally, it's to those channels that most clearly target the older listeners disenfranchised by mainstream terrestrial stations in most larger markets. You see it more with the success of the Smooth Jazz, Easy Listening, Classic Country, and '50s channels at XM, but even at Sirius, the listening levels are higher for the pre-Beatles Sirius Gold than they are for the '60s or '70s channels.

In that regard, you can finally say that satellite radio listeners aren't just paying for the radio formats they can hear anywhere else, but you can finally see them paying for the stations that mainstream radio forced them to get elsewhere. PPM has forced terrestrial radio to take a stutter step backwards as far as Oldies, but seeing the relative strength of other older targeting formats should give them pause as well.

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