Reserved for paying customersAm I the only one thrown for a loop when looking at Arbitron’s 12+/6+ ratings in the trade and consumer press and on their website?  Arbitron’s published ratings, which now exclude non-subscribing stations, may confuse more than they inform.  Here are a couple examples of how Arbitron’s reporting only subscribing stations throws the reader off.

I called a friend to congratulate him on having the #1 and #2 ranked stations in his Metro rating.  He informed me that there were 3 or 4 other stations ahead of his.  Because his is an embedded market (one of the areas embedded in a larger rating area,) those stations that subscribe to the larger rating area but not to embedded market’s ratings aren’t listed in the press.

Another client didn’t show up in the Winter book.  They subscribe only to the Spring and Fall books in a 4-book market.  Shame!  They became invisible in Arbitron’s general Winter release of the ratings.  You have to wonder if this is some kind of punishment for not buying the entire package.

Other than flattering the stations that subscribe to each reported rating, one must wonder what the purpose is of publishing incomplete ratings that serve to muddy the readers’ view of the competitive landscape.