Broadcast Radio Reaches 77% of US Adults

November 5, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Media & Entertainment | Radio

Though total radio revenues are expected to sink 15% in 2009, a recent analysis from The Nielsen Company found that more than three-fourths (77%) of US adults are reached by broadcast radio on a daily basis, making it the #2 ad-supported medium in terms of reach.? TV, which reaches 95% of US adults, ranks at #1. The study (pdf),? in which consumers were physically observed consuming media throughout the day, also found that the web/internet (excluding email) reached 64% of US adults, newspapers reached 35%, and magazines reached 27%.


Nielsen also found that that 90% of consumers listen to some form of audio media each day, but the 77% who listen to broadcast radio surpass the 37% who listen to CDs and tapes, and the 12% who listen to portable audio devices.


Broadcast radio also continues to play prominent role across all age groups, with almost 80% of 18-34-year-olds listening tuning in during an average day.

iPods Have Positive Effect

While the recent emergence of portable audio devices like the iPod and other MP3 players was considered a threat to traditional forms of audio, Nielsen said that its research suggests that this new technology has actually had a positive effect on radio consumption. Radio was found to have a higher reach (82%) among those who listen to portable audio devices, compared with the average reach for all audio consumers.

Other findings from the report:

  • Audio media exposure has the highest reach among those with higher levels of education and income.
  • Approximately 12% of study participants listened to MP3s and iPods for an average of 69 minutes per day, yet eight in 10 of these also listened to broadcast radio for an average of 97 minutes per day.
  • Broadcast radio is the dominant form of audio media at home, work, and in the car.

Nielsen said its study findings suggest that there is still a lot life left in broadcast radio. “There are a lot of critics out there who want to write off broadcast radio, but this analysis of real-time media consumption shows that it continues to play a very strong role,” said Michael Link, VP of methodological research at The Nielsen Company.

Other recent studies have shown similar promise for both broadcast and online radio.? A media use and credibility survey commissioned by ARAnet and conducted by Opinion Research Corporation found that Americans are increasingly turning to online and radio sources for news and information, and are spending less time with daily newspapers and TV.

SNL Kagan recently forecast that online radio revenue is expected grow 12%, to $441 million this year (from $394 million in 2008), and will leap 20% in 2010, to $530 million.

About the study: The study, entitled “How US Adults Use Radio and Other Forms of Audio” (pdf) was conducted by observing the media usage among participants in five DMAs (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Seattle) in the spring and fall of 2008. Many of the broadcast listening trends were consistent with the findings from Nielsen’s 51-market radio ratings released in September.

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