Among the noteworthy findings in the second-quarter edition of Edison Research's “Share of Ear” study is digital streaming of AM/FM radio stations' continued share growth, albeit at a slower pace compared to during the first 12 months of the pandemic.
Edison's ongoing survey, which measures daily reach and time spent for all forms of audio among a sample of 4,000 Americans, shows streaming at a record-high 16% of total AM/FM listening among persons 25-54 during Q2 2022. That share stood at just 8% five years ago and 10% three years ago. Most of the growth came during COVID's initial waves, from second-quarter 2020 to 2021, as AM/FM streaming shot up from 11% to 15%.
According to Westwood One's blog's analysis of Edison's data, which focuses exclusively on share of ad-supported audio and excludes subscription-based streaming, AM/FM radio streaming has doubled here as well among 25-54s since 2017, from 6% to 12%, while ad-supported podcast listening has nearly tripled, from 5% to 14%. Looking at the data this way, AM/FM streaming is twice that of ad-supported SiriusXM or Pandora and three times that of ad-supported Spotify.
Additionally, “Share of Ear” shows that in a typical day, at least 90% of Americans listen only to AM/FM radio but not to either ad-supported Pandora, Spotify or SiriusXM. Conversely, “only 3%-4% of daily listeners only listen to Pandora, Spotify or SiriusXM and do not listen to AM/FM radio,” Cumulus Media and Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says. “On the other hand, a strong AM/FM radio schedule will reach half to two-thirds of Pandora, Spotify, and SiriusXM audiences at no extra cost.”
Since the COVID lockdown, AM/FM's share of ad-supported audio time has been virtually unaffected, moving from 76% to 75%, while podcasts' share has grown and shares of other digital ad-supported media have not. “Many have wondered if the pandemic shifted audio usage patterns, [but] overall, ad-supported shares are remarkably consistent,” Bouvard says. “AM/FM radio is stable and dominant.” This is also the case for AM/FM's in-car share of ad-supported audio time, from 87% during second quarter of both 2020 and 2021 to 89% in Q2 2022.
It should be noted that that Westwood One's analysis excludes Edison data for paid, subscription-based listening to digital music services such as Spotify and Pandora. While most of audio time is indeed spent with ad-supported platforms (60% in 2021), it is trending down while the share with ad-free platforms (40% in 2021) is moving up. This is part of a trend of consumers “buying their way out of ads,”according to Edison Research President and co-founder Larry Rosin.