What’s going on in radio?
Streaming radio services have yet to take down the mighty, traditional AM/FM bandwidth mode of listening. Although not without its struggles, radio continues to expand as online listening also grows. Kyle Johnson, managing editor of radio content at Vocus Media Research Group, compiled information from a number of studies released this year, giving us a good overview of how listeners are relating to radio:
— Clear Channel and MediaVest released a survey in Q1 that looked at why, when and how consumers use particular audio platforms. Among the findings:
- The use of audio platforms is highest from 3-7 p.m., and the car remains the most popular location for audio listening throughout the day.
- AM/FM radio is still the most popular audio platform, and listeners use it to stay connected to the world, following news, personalities and new music.
- Other listening platforms address consumers’ specific needs, such as controlling or customizing the listening experience or hearing fewer commercials.
— Nielsen released its State of the Media: Audio Today 2014 Report in February and found that 242 million people listen to radio each week, which is more than 92 percent of all Americans 12 years of age and older. That includes nearly all the major demographic groups. The study also found that boomers (those between the ages of 50 and 64) are radio’s most engaged demographic, averaging more than 14 hours a week listening to the medium. The top 5 radio formats, by share of total listening, are:
- Country (14.8 percent)
- News/Talk (11.3 percent)
- Contemporary Hits or Top 40 (8.0 percent)
- Adult Contemporary (7.3 percent)
- Classic Hits (5.5 percent)
— Online radio listening continues to rise, according to the latest survey of consumer digital media use. The survey, conducted by Edison Research and Triton Digital and called The Infinite Dial 2014, found that radio’s monthly online audience is now approaching half of all Americans. Three-quarters of those between the ages of 12 and 24 say they’ve listened in the last month. The percentage of those listening to online radio in their car via cell phone is now up to 26 percent, five percent higher than last year. Of all the digital platforms, Pandora is the most popular.
— Nielsen released data showing that streaming media is being adopted by an increasing number of people. In terms of music, overall sales were down in 2013, including digital downloads, but streaming consumption grew 32 percent.
— Other findings from Nielsen surveys found that millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 34) are steady radio consumers. According to the company’s Audio Today report, 90.3 percent of all millennials are reached weekly by radio, and they spend an average of 11.5 hours a week with it.
— A survey from Mark Kassof & Co. looked at how listeners react when radio stations change format, and found that 84 percent would be upset with such a change. Listeners in the 35- to 44-year-old range are the most upset, while listeners between the ages of 18 and 24 would be the least upset. Still, 70 percent of those 18- to 24-year-olds would be upset with the format change, showing how much listeners, even millennials, care about radio.
— Nielsen released its March 2014 RADAR 120 National Listening Report, which found that the U.S. radio audience increased by more than 1.2 million listeners since March 2013. Radio now reaches 244.4 million listeners on a weekly basis, which makes up 92 percent of the population 12 years of age and older.
Even online can’t seem to kill the radio star. Regardless of whether it’s on AM/FM, satellite or streaming music services, radio continues to survive.
“The radio industry, despite reports of its demise, continues to thrive and evolve. Its evolution has been, in part, out of necessity, with fast-moving changes in technology and listening behavior,” said Kyle Johnson, managing editor of radio content at Vocus Media Research Group. “Despite these changes, radio is delivering more listeners than ever before. There have been challenges, such as the trend by the big radio companies to use voice-tracking, syndicated hosts, automated programming and other cost-cutting measures that don’t provide what radio does best: deliver local and community-oriented programming. But radio is still a go-to source for breaking news, discovering new music, and personalities that consumers turn to on a daily basis.”
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