Digital Radio’s Ascent Isn’t Blunting Broadcast Radio’s Reach

August 24, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Cross-Media & Traditional | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Industries | Media & Entertainment | Radio | Youth & Gen X

Online radio has been showing strong growth in recent years, reaching 61% of Americans ages 12 and older. A new report from Nielsen [download page], however, demonstrates that digital radio’s broadening audience hasn’t had a negative impact on broadcast radio’s wide reach, even among youth.

The study shows that digital radio’s 18-34-year-old audience almost doubled between 2012 (25 million) and 2016 (48 million). Interestingly, it’s grown even more quickly among the 35+ population, with more than double the amount of listeners in 2016 (57 million) than in 2012 (26 million).

At the same time, broadcast radio’s reach has remained steady during the time period. With 72 million 18-34-year-old listeners in 2016, broadcast radio’s reach among youth is unchanged from 2012. And with 167 million listeners ages 35 and older, broadcast radio has actually increased its reach among that larger demographic, from 162 million in 2012.

Listeners are staying engaged, too. Nielsen notes in its report that Millennials are spending about as much time listening to the radio as they were a year ago, and eMarketer media estimates show that radio consumption has remained largely immune to the declines suffered by other traditional media.

Here’s an intriguing statistic: our analysis in 2016 of media consumption estimates at the time revealed that US adults spent more time listening to the radio than using social networks.

Nonetheless, new options are emerging to battle for youths’ audio time. For example, in September of last year, some 57% of 18-34-year-olds used 2 or more music streaming apps, according to Nielsen’s report. And more than one-third (37%) of this bracket listens to podcasts at least once a week.

For more on radio listening and audiences, see the following:

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