AM/FM Radio Maintains Its Dominance Among Ad-Supported Audio.


Edison Research's just-released “Share of Ear” report for fourth quarter 2021 shows AM/FM radio's continued strength among ad-supported audio – whether overall, by key demographic, in cars or on smart speakers. Edison's measure of daily reach and time spent for all forms of audio based on its survey of 4,000 Americans is the focus of the latest installment of Westwood One's “Everyone's Listening” blog. Being in the business of selling advertising, the network’s analysis looks only at ad-supported audio listening. The pie is divided up differently when all audio listening is included.


Compared to Q4 2020, AM/FM is back up to a 76% share while podcasts and ad-supported Pandora are both down a point, to 11% and 6% respectively. For Pandora, it's a continuation of a steady decline since Q4 2019, while ad-supported Spotify shows no share growth over the past two years, steady at 4%. Meanwhile, podcasts have nearly doubled in share, from Q4 2019's 6% to its current 11%.


No matter the demo, AM/FM radio is far ahead in total ad-supported share, while podcast shares exceed those of Spotify and Pandora combined in all cases. Among persons 25-54, digital streaming's share of total AM/FM listening continues to grow, from 8% in 2016-2017 to 14% in 2021.


AM/FM’s in-car story is even more impressive, with ad-supported audio share steady at 88% among persons 18+ since 2019. Demographic-wise, AM/FM's share is solid across the board, even over 80% among 18-34s, counter to the beliefs of advertisers seeing those they know in the demo shunning radio in favor of Spotify while driving.


“These 'sample of one' tales are not representative of what is actually happening in America: there is very little ad-supported streaming occurring in the car,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Insights Manager Brittany Faison says.“[While] people have listened to 'their music' in their car for 50 years, if advertisers want to actually reach people with advertising in their vehicle, these in-car ad-supported shares from “Share of Ear” are a great media planning tool.”


According to Edison's “Share of Ear,” AM/FM's dominance is also seen on smart speakers, where it boasts a 43% share of ad-supported audio. “40% of U.S. homes now own a smart speaker, which has brought AM/FM radios back into the home,” Faison says. “AM/FM radio stations have aggressively promoted how to listen to their audio stream via smart speaker, [and] these strong promotion efforts have paid off.”


Also notable in Edison's report, especially in this crucial election year, is AM/FM radio's 75% share of ad-supported audio among registered voters, with a breakdown of 73% among Democrats, 78% among Republicans and 74% among registered Independents. Ad-supported podcast listening is a key point of difference, with 13% of Democrats and 12% of Independents listening, vs. 7% of Republicans.

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