I‘ve never pushed contesting as a panacea for stations. A good contest can’t make a bad station successful, long-term. Still, contests are much more in the ballpark of traditional radio than satellite or pure-play online stations, so I’m especially interested… Could contests be another weapon  in radio’s battle with the upstarts???

To find out, we did an online survey earlier this month with 608 18 to 64 year olds who had cumed an FM or AM station in the past week.  We probed a lot of issues around contesting, which we’ll explore over the next few weeks. But first, let’s get straight to the “bottom line”…

Yes, contests can be a real edge for a station, and for traditional radio in general.

It’s true that contests have no impact on the majority of listeners’ interest in a station, or how much they listen to it.  But there remains a substantial percentage that are impacted by contests, and in an overwhelmingly positive way:

Overall, how does a radio station’s contest affect how INTERESTING it is to listen to?  
MORE Interesting 40%
LESS Interesting   3%
NEITHER More nor Less 56%
Don’t Know   1%
And overall, how does a radio station’s contest affect HOW MUCH YOU LISTEN TO IT?   
Listen to it MORE 34%
Listen to it LESS   2%
Doesn’t Affect You 64%
Don’t Know   1%

So, what this says is: Most listeners won’t be affected by your contest one way or another.  But at least a third will, and that bump comes with minimal downside.

I’m blown away by these numbers. Even if we toss in the requisite “grain of salt,” there’s no conclusion other than contesting can be a very good thing!

And this conclusion is corroborated by listeners’ responses to a number of agree/disagree statements in our survey…

For example, only 11% “agree a lot”  with “Contests are a waste of time”; 28% “disagree a lot.”

Only 8% agree a lot with  “You’d prefer a station that promises no contests at all”; 32% disagree a lot.

And 12% agree a lot with: “You would listen to a station you don’t like, just for a chance to win its contest”!  While many more (44%) disagree a lot, that’s still an incredibly strong statement on the impact of contests.

Stand by for more in the coming weeks…