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Jacobs' Techsurvey Shows More Listeners Than Ever Do So Because 'It's Free.'

In the current multiple-media-subscription environment, it appears more radio listeners appreciate the value of broadcast radio – especially, not having to pay for it.

A sneak peek at the forthcoming Techsuvey 2023 from Jacobs Media – conducted among core radio users from the email databases and social media pages of hundreds of participating stations – shows that a record-high 64% of respondents give “It's free” as a main reason for listening. That's up from 59% last year, pushing the response from third to second-ranked, behind the top answer this and last year, that “radio is easiest to listen to in the car,” and knocking “DJs/hosts/shows” out of second place.

Radio's free nature is more important among younger listeners, with that 64% moving to 72% among Gen Z's and to 69% among Millennials, which may be no accident given how many in each group have been paying monthly fees for music and video services.

“The younger the listener, the greater the likelihood 'it's free' is perceived to be a key benefit for broadcast radio,” Jacobs Media President and founder Fred Jacobs says. “Radio being free is a great deal. Getting 'comped' for listening looks pretty good after a consumer peruses their credit card statements each month to see what they're really paying for all that content.”

As it happens, Techsurvey 2023 also finds that seven in ten respondents (71%) agree with the statement, “I am concerned about the growing number of subscription fees I'm paying for media content,” with four in ten (41%) strongly agreeing. Perhaps as a result, according to Jacobs' study, nearly one-third (32%) of participants report having cancelled a paid media subscription in the past year, with Gen Z's and Millennials again indexing higher.

“It turns out growing numbers of consumers are fed up with the mounting costs of subscription fees, and the difficulty they often have cancelling existing deals.” Jacobs says, noting that “the pain is being felt across demographic and socioeconomic groups, as well as listeners to a wide variety of radio formats and stations.”

The trend is echoed in a recent Wall Street Journal story cited by Jacobs, reporting that video streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max (now just “Max”) saw cancellations increase by 49% last year. “That hits home for radio broadcasters and media organizations that have mostly sat on the subscription sidelines,” Jacobs says. “A number of Jacobs clients and Techsurvey stakeholders have found ways to work radio's 'free' attribute into positioning statements, promos, and host breaks.”

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