What is a Designated Market Area (DMA)? A Closer Look at the US Broadcast Media Market

What is a Designated Market Area (DMA)? A Closer Look at the US Broadcast Media Market

Anyone dealing with the American broadcast media landscape will sooner or later come across the term “DMA region” – but what exactly is a DMA region?

The term stands for “designated market area” and describes the area in which the population has access to the same television, radio and broadcast channels. These regions are not necessarily geographically separated, in some areas the DMAs differ significantly from the national borders.

Characteristics of the DMAs

DMA regions vary extremely by number of inhabitants. New York City is, for example, the largest DMA in America (7,726,580 homes in 2023) and Glendive is the smallest DMA (3,920 homes in 2023).

In total, there are 210 DMAs in the USA, which determine the population’s media consumption habits in urban as well as in rural areas. For each DMA, there is detailed information about the socioeconomic and demographic profile of the population. These make the areas particularly suitable for market studies.

Originally, the DMAs were designated by the media market research company Nielsen, who uses them to measure local television consumption in the USA. Until today, the company’s DMA ranking is the most popular report regarding radio and TV consumers and reach.

Clever Media Planning in the USA

There are huge cost differences when advertising in various DMAs, naturally coming from all the attributes mentioned above. Airing an ad in L.A., for example, will have a higher cost than in Austin.

For PR and marketing professionals, knowledge of the DMAs is of great importance. It helps targeting their content by evaluating customers’ profiles and trends in the different areas of the country, which means that they can get the best out of every campaign.

Besides the characteristics and preferences of the population, the way information is distributed within the different DMAs can also lead a company to a major success. This information includes which topics are disseminated and in which channels, for example.

Measure the Success of Your Efforts

The US media market is one of the largest and most important worldwide. Since 2007, eMM has constantly expanded its reach in the USA, growing the number of channels across every DMA.

To make sure that your strategic media planning in the USA – following the characteristics of the DMAs – is actually working, eMM offers a wide range of solutions such the Dart Media Monitoring Platform and Ad Campaign Monitoring.

Be able to independently monitor your own company and your competitors in the broadcast media – which is indispensable to improve your strategy – and track your ad campaigns’ perfomance in the different DMAs.

If you want to find out more about the different eMM solutions, simply leave us a message and a member of our team will soon get in touch:


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