Billboard Reveals Changes to How Streaming Factors Into Charts

The magazine has made final adjustments on how streaming data will affect the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts.

Billboardhas made final adjustments on how streaming data will affect the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts. More emphasis will be put on paid subscription streams, according to the magazine. Ad-supported streaming will still be taken into account and be considered an important aspect of the charts for albums and songs. 

Billboard currently has two different types of streaming plays. These include on-demand (like Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube) and programmed (like Pandora and Slacker Radio). On-demand streams hold a greater weight than programmed. For the Billboard 200 charts (and other charts based on genre), the magazine uses a "single tier" for on-demand audio streams, both paid and ad-supported subscription services, where 1,500 streams equal an album unit. While video and programmed audio streams do count toward the Hot 100, they do not contribute to the Billboard 200 calculations.

Starting the first week of Nielsen's third quarter, June 29 to July 5, and reflected on Billboard charts dated July 14, more weight will be given to streams on subscription-based services (Apple, Amazon) or on the paid subscription tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported services (Spotify, SoundCloud).

For the Hot 100, the charts will have weighted tiers of streaming plays. Paid subscription streams will represent a full point value per play, ad-supported streams will represent a 2/3-point value per play, and programmed streams will represent a 1/2-point value per play. These values will be paired with radio airplay and digital sales.


As for the Billboard 200 charts, two tiers of on-demand audio streams will be included. Tier one is paid subscription audio streams (where 1,250 streams equal one album unit), and tier two is ad-supported audio streams (where 3,750 streams equal one album unit). Anything streamed from a trial subscription falls under tier one. The Billboard 200 still will not include video streams.

Last October, Billboardannounced it would be changing how it counted streams. Since then, the concept has undergone internal analysis and sparked intense dialogue in the music industry. At the time, Billboard explained in a statement that in its Hot 100 singles chart, it used to weigh all streams equally in on-demand streaming sites. The mag wanted to do this in order to "better reflect the varied user activity occurring on these services."

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