NEWS18 February 2010

Arbitron says it’s poised for 2010 growth with ‘09 revenue up 4%

Financials North America

US— Radio ratings firm Arbitron predicted modest growth for 2010 as it reported an 8.5% rise in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2009 and a 4.4% increase for the full 12 months.

Q4 revenue was $101.5m, while full-year sales were $385m. Arbitron pegged the revenue increase to the continued commercialisation of its portable people meter (PPM) technology, although sales of software, qual research and custom services were down. The firm also reported lower renewal rates and fewer new clients for the year, owing to the “economic and business challenges” facing the radio industry.

Net income for the year was up 13.4% to $42.2, while a one-off tax benefit helped fourth-quarter profit to jump 272% to $12.6m.

For 2010, chief financial officer Sean Creamer said the firm expected to see revenue grow by between 2% and 6%, in spite of $10m in lost revenue due to broadcasters Cumulus and Clear Channel signing up to Nielsen’s competing radio ratings service in a number of small to mid-sized markets.

Arbitron resident and CEO William Kerr (pictured) said: “Our priorities for 2010 are straightforward. We will work to complete the planned commercialisation of our PPM ratings service while continuing our programs designed to improve key sample quality metrics, our efforts toward Media Rating Council accreditation, and our work toward resolving responsibly the remaining concerns of certain customers and governmental entities.”

Besides looking to “strengthen and defend” its core radio service over the next 12 months, Kerr said Arbitron would further explore other areas of research such as cross platform measurement and out-of-home TV viewing.

On the company’s PPM technology, Kerr said that the Media Ratings Council would re-audit the technology in 12 markets during the first quarter of 2010.

Kerr said that Arbitron would not be commercialising the technology in any markets during the first half of this year, but it would be commercialised in 10 markets in the third quarter and five in Q4.