Edison: Despite Pandemic, AM/FM Retains Dominant ‘Share Of Ear.’


Despite the coronavirus, AM/FM radio remains the nation’s leading audio platform with a 43% share of time spent with audio among persons 18+, according to the second quarter 2020 ”Share of Ear” study released by Edison Research this week to subscribers. The next three sources of audio don’t carry commercials: music videos on YouTube, which captured a 10% share, owned music (9%) and the ad-free channels on Sirius XM (7%).


The latest report shows AM/FM radio is 11 times bigger than ad supported Pandora, which grabbed a 4% share of ear, and 22 times larger than ad-supported Spotify (3%).


Narrowing the focus to just the audience shares for ad-supported audio, the strength of AM/FM looks even more prominent. “AM/FM has a towering 76% share of ad-supported audio,” Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer of Cumulus Media/Westwood One, said Thursday during a webinar for advertisers on the weekly state of consumers, audio and media. In fact, podcasts, a medium that Podtrac shows is dominated by radio giants like iHeartRadio and NPR, delivered a 9% share of ad-supported audio, followed by ad-supported Pandora (8%), ad-supported SiriusXM (4%) and ad-supported Spotify (4%).


Broadcast radio’s leading position among ad-supported audio outlets spans all major demos, including persons 18-34, 18-49, 25-54 and 35-64. Even among Millennials, AM/FM secured three times the share of ad-supported audio time spent over No. 2 podcasts.


On The Road Again


As the country moves into the early stages of the recovery phase of the pandemic, Americans are back on the road. Based on the latest volume of driving search requests from Apple Maps, traffic has doubled from its low point in early April and is now 27% higher than pre-COVID levels. With more cars on the road, broadcast radio continues to dominate. “AM/FM is the king and queen of the road with a stunning 87% share of ad-supported audio in the car,” Bouvard said. No other ad-supported audio platform is even in the ballpark.


AM/FM’s share of ad supported audio is consistently strong off the road too, with a 63% share at work and a 72% share at home.


Perhaps the biggest headline to emerge from the new Share Of Ear data is the swift growth of podcasting. The red-hot channel’s share of time spent with audio has more than doubled over the past five years, from 2.2% in Q2 2016 to 4.9% in Q2 2020. In the past year alone, podcasting has boosted its share of Americans’ time spent with audio by a full point.


No demo has shown as voracious an appetite for podcasts as Millennials, who allocated 19% of their time spent with ad-supported audio to the channel in second quarter 2020, equal to the shares of ad-supported Pandora and Spotify combined.


Level Of Concern


Meanwhile, ongoing consumer sentiment tracking from NuVoodoo shows the level of concern for the COVID crisis among Americans continues to decline. At the peak of the pandemic in April, 46% of Americans said they were “extremely concerned.” But that fell to 41% in May and to just over one third (34%) for the period from June 1-16.


“While a third of Americans are still extremely concerned about the virus, they are beginning to get fatigued about some of the COVID inspired advertising,” Bouvard pointed out.


More than one in three Americans (36%) said they are sick of ads that speak to the crisis and use the seemingly ubiquitous phrase, “We’re all in this together.” The latest NuVoodoo data shows consumers are more interested in ads that focus on the products and services themselves, especially ads that tout discounts and explain the COVID policies of stores to protect employees and customers.


When it comes to the recent protests over police violence directed at African Americans,respondents polled by NuVoodoo last week (June 7-15) said they want broadcast radio to share ways to keep the community safe (selected by 50% of the sample), “have conversations with listeners and community leaders about what’s going on in your community” (49%) and “report facts only and no opinions” (48%).

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