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Nielsen: Radio Tops In Audio Reach As Listening To AM/FM Streams Continues To Grow.


Radio continues to not only reach more consumers than any other audio platform, but also commands the largest share of audio time spent with both ad-supported and ad-free audio providers. That’s one of the headlines from Nielsen’s latest Audio Today report, issued this week. Specifically, radio reaches 91% of the U.S. population in a given month, including 91% of Black consumers and 95% of Hispanics.


The latest data shows remarkable reach consistency for radio across demos: 85% of adults 18-34, 93% of adults 35-49, and 92% of adults 50+.


Live+time-shifted TV came in second place for 18+ reach at 90%, followed by smartphone (87%), TV-connected devices (86%), PC (79%) and tablet (57%).


The report, which looks at how Americans use broadcast radio, podcasts, streaming and satellite radio, offers a more holistic view of the U.S. audioscape, thanks to the inclusion of new capabilities from Nielsen Scarborough and Edison Share of Ear.


It also details the growth in digital streaming listening as a portion of the overall radio audience, plus listening location, time of day, timely new podcast insights from Nielsen Scarborough and a deep dive into the listening habits and format preferences of nearly 20 unique audience segments.


Listening to online station streams continues to account for a larger share of time spent with broadcast radio. As of first quarter 2023, the portion of AM/FM radio time spent with station streams rose to 20%, up from 19% in Q4 2022 and from 15% one year earlier. That amounts to a gain of five percentage points in one year. Put another way, 20% of the time spent with AM/FM radio in Q1 2023 occurred via streaming.


In the audio universe, Nielsen concludes that only AM/FM radio can deliver the scale advertisers need. Its 91% monthly reach among Americans aged 18+ dwarves that of No. 2 YouTube Music (29%), Spotify (25%), satellite radio (20%), Pandora (19%), and Amazon Music (15%).


Even among more tech-savvy 18-34 year-olds, AM/FM (85% monthly reach) keeps a nearly two-to-one lead over second place Spotify (43%) while outdistancing all others by significant margins.


Broadcast radio’s reach impact is “even more pronounced when comparing reach among ad-supported options for audio marketing campaigns,” Nielsen’s Audio Today report says.


For example, narrowing the lens to just ad-supported audio shows free YouTube’s monthly reach among adults 18+ drops to 26%, free Spotify to 17% and free Pandora to 12% while AM/FM’s monthly reach remains at 91% since it is only available in an ad-supported format. Spotify’s monthly reach among 18-34 year-olds drops from 43% when its subscription and ad-supported versions are combined to 31% for just the ad-supported tier.


“Radio use spans the bulk of the day, reaching consumers on the path to purchase; it is the dominant audio source in the car,” the report states. Radio is also the top audio source in the car – more than 60% of all time spent with audio in vehicles goes to AM/FM radio as of the Q1 2023 Edison Share of Ear study.


Providing more ammo for lawmakers supporting the AM for Every Vehicle Act, three-quarters (74%) of all AM radio listening happens in the car.


Broadcast radio also leads all audio sources in share of time spent listening. AM/FM captures 38% of daily time spent with all audio sources among U.S. adults 18+. Streaming audio’s time spent comes in second with a 17% share, followed by YouTube (13%) and podcasts and satellite radio with 9% piece.


As with the reach comparisons, radio’s impact is also more pronounced when comparing time spent with ad-supported audio. There it captures 68% of TSL among U.S. adults 18+. Podcasts (16%) come in second, not ad-supported streaming audio (12%). “Podcast consumers are shifting their habits to listen more while commuting and traveling,” per the report. “Heavier podcast usage is growing, while lighter usage is in decline.”


The report reinforces radio’s position as an out-of-home medium with 65% of full week listening and 69% of working day listening taking place away from home. And most away-from-home listening (68%) happens in the car.


Radio’s share of total time spent with media during the week is highest during morning drive and midday, while overall listening peaks in the afternoon hours, between 3-5pm, according to Nielsen.

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