AM/FM Radio Listeners Mostly Undeterred by On-Demand, Streaming Options

May 17, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Media & Entertainment | Men | Radio | Teens & Younger | Women | Youth & Gen X

More than 9 in 10 radio listeners listen to local AM/FM radio stations for at least an hour per day, and that amount of time may be going up rather than down, according to the latest annual TechSurvey report [download page] from Jacobs Media. Indeed, the vast majority report listening to AM/RM radio at least as much as last year.

Specifically, almost three-quarters say they’re listening to AM/FM radio (on any device) the same amount as last year. Six in 10 say they’re still listening a lot, and about 1 in 8 say they’re still tuning in, but not much.

The remaining respondents are almost twice as likely to report that they’re listening more (17%) as to say they’re downgraded their AM/FM radio listening time (9.8%).

The results are notable in light of recent media consumption estimates that show radio listening remaining resilient even as time spent with other legacy media declines.

Interestingly enough, it’s the younger generations that are most likely to be upping their AM/FM radio habits. More than one-third of Gen Z radio listeners surveyed by Jacobs Media claimed to be listening more to AM/FM radio this year, and almost one-quarter of Gen Y respondents reported the same. These groups are the least apt to be listening to at least one hour per day, although more than 8 in 10 purport to doing so.

Top Reasons for Listening to Radio Remain Constant

Radio listeners this year largely gave the same primary reasons for tuning in as in prior years:

  • Wanting to hear their favorite songs and artists (66.2% citing as a “main reason”);
  • Liking particular DJs, shows or hosts (56.2%); and
  • Liking to work with the radio on (55%).

New this year was an option regarding radio being free, which 57% indicated to be a “main reason” for listening.

It’s worth pointing out that some key reasons for listening vary widely by age and gender:

  • Wanting to hear favorite songs and artists is far more of a primary reason for women (73%) than men (58%) and for Gen Z (81%) than for Silents (45%);
  • Likewise, wanting to discover new music and new artists is much more important to the youngest (65%) than oldest (11%) generation;
  • Wanting to be informed about what’s going on in the news is a much bigger influence for the Silent Generation (63%) than for Gen Z (20%); and
  • Wanting to get in a better mood and wanting to escape the pressures of everyday life were each cited by a considerably higher share of women than men.

By comparison, some reasons for listening – such as liking particular DJs and hosts and just being in the habit of listening – were generally held at the same levels across age and gender.

Podcasts & On-Demand Audio Not A Huge Deterrent

The study also looked further at the 1 in 10 radio listeners who are tuning in less this year.

The most common “main reasons” given for doing so were the presence of too many commercials on AM/FM radio stations (39.7%) and repetitive music (39.5%). Close behind was a lifestyle change, noted by 37% of respondents who are now listening less.

Fewer (32%) noted that listening to more Pandora, Spotify and similar services was a main reason for listening less, with almost half (49%) saying that this was not even a reason at all. Spending more time listening to podcasts and on-demand audio was even less of a deterrent: fewer than 1 in 6 (16%) pointed to this as a main reason, and more than 7 in 10 said it had no impact.

As one might expect, Gen Z was the most likely to be listening less due to streaming audio options, while it was Gen Y that was most apt to be turning away from the radio in order to listen to more on-demand audio and podcasts.

Still, it appears that these options may be more likely to be complementary to AM/FM radio than replacing it: while podcasts haven’t proved to be a big deterrent to AM/FM radio listening, separate results indicate that more of radio’s audience is now turning in to podcasts on a weekly basis.

About the Data: Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey13 results were gathered online from January 16 ”“ February 27, 2017. Overall, 321 radio stations across the US and Canada participated, contributing 51,760 respondents.

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