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Edison Confirms AM/FM's Continued Dominance, Even While Underestimated By Advertisers.


This time of year, in the radio research business, two things are nearly always certain: Edison Research's fourth-quarter “Share of Ear” report produces impressive stories about AM/FM radio to take to advertisers, while Advertising Perceptions' annual survey shows how off-the-mark most of those advertisers are when it comes to ad-supported radio's audience share.


Edison's quarterly study, which surveys 4,000 Americans annually about the use of all forms of audio, puts AM/FM radio at a 73% share of ad-supported audio time spent among persons 18+, with podcasts a distant second at 15%, followed by ad-supported Pandora, Spotify, and SiriusXM at 5%, 4%, and 4% respectively. That 73% for ad-supported AM/FM is nearly three times what the 300 media agencies and marketers surveyed last August by Advertiser Perceptions thought, pegging it at 28% vs. Spotify's also-28% and Pandora's 16%, as reported in the analysis of both studies in this week's Westwood One blog.


“Marketers and agencies dramatically underestimate AM/FM radio shares,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says. “[It's a] big disconnect between advertiser agency perceptions of audio listening, contrasted with the realities of actual listening.”


Edison's five-year trend, from Q4 2017 to that of 2022, shows over-the-air AM/FM radio continues to lead the pack among persons 25-54, with AM/FM streaming more than double, and podcasts triple, where they were five years ago. Notes the blog, AM/FM radio’s 25-54 streaming audiences are +44% larger than ad-supported Spotify and Pandora combined.


Since 2016, AM/FM streaming's share of audio time among 25-54s has nearly tripled, up from 8% to 20%, with half of that 20% gained since 2019, fueled by the pandemic. “That's a big number,” notes Bouvard. “It means for every five minutes of radio listening, one minute is occurring via the stream.” Men are clearly driving this growth, with their streaming share going from 9% in 2016 to 28% in 2022, vs. 6% to 10% among women 25-54. In just the past year, men 25-54's streaming share jumped from 18% to that 28%, while women's share has stayed steady since 2020.


As for podcasts, Westwood One's analysis points out that, according to Edison, the share of time spent among persons 18+ has more than doubled since Q4 2017, from 3.2% to 7.8%. Over the same period, podcasts' daily reach of persons 18-49 has soared from 12.5% to 32.0%, with a 43% gain over 22.4% from a year ago, while 25-54s reach has surged from 8.7% to 29.0% and up from 18.2% a year ago. “No longer can advertisers criticize podcasting for its lack of scale,” Bouvard says. “It now has significant reach, and it's grown dramatically in just the last year.”


Also notable are Edison's daily podcast listening trends across all key demos, showing that triple-digit percent growth has happened nearly across the board over the past five years. “Podcasts may be perceived as a younger person’s medium, but all age demos are increasing,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Insights Manager Liz Mayer says. “One out of three 18-44s now listen to podcasts daily, [and] persons 55-64 have seen the biggest change from 2017 to 2022.”

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