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PQ Media’s Annual Media Usage Forecast Shows Audio Shifts Tilting In Radio’s Favor.

More than a third of global media time is now spent with digital media like podcasts. However, PQ Media’s just-released annual Global Consumer Media Usage Forecast shows consumption of most digital media slid backward last year as the pandemic impact faded further.

PQ Media says global listening to podcasts and streaming audio declined five percent in 2022 compared to 2021. But audio remained a part of consumers’ habit, according to the data, as AM/FM radio listening increased, making broadcast radio one of the few traditional media to see growth last year.

PQ Media says the only media that consumers spend more time with than radio is television. Consumers spent more than 30 hours per week overall with traditional media last year. That is a third more than the amount of time they spend with digital media overall. Broadcast radio gets about 15 hours per week of use worldwide, according to the report.

Despite what could be seen as a more normalized listening trend line for streaming audio and podcasting, the digital story overall is one of gains. PQ Media says digital consumer media usage rose 8.1% in 2022 to 19.68 hours each week. That represents 35.3% of overall weekly media usage. The firm says men use digital media more than women, while what it calls the iGen – those born between 1997 and 2012 – were the biggest users of digital media, as a majority (51.1%) of their media consumption went to digital.

PQ Media says global consumer media usage, including all digital and traditional media channels, grew at an accelerated rate of 2.7% to an average of 55.81 hours per week in 2022, following a sharp deceleration in time spent with media growth in 2021, which came on the heels of the fastest increase in media consumption in 15 years in 2020 with a pandemic-fueled surge. Last year’s growth rate is closer to the 3.3% rate seen in 2020, however.

Analysts say consumer media usage grew at a faster pace last year thanks to a mix of new, more compelling original content releases, various international sporting events like the World Cup and federal elections in several of the top 20 global media markets. “The accelerated gain in 2022 was slightly higher than anticipated and more in line with pre-pandemic levels for an even year,” it says.

Going forward, PQ Media predicts that U.S. media will see declines in odd-numbered years when there are only a handful of international sporting events and political campaigns to drive media consumption.

Among other key findings from the report is that ad-supported media accounted for a majority (53.7%) of time spent with media in 2022, down from a 58.5% share in 2017. Traditional media usage was flat in 2022, while digital media’s share has been gaining by an approximately two percent share annually in total usage over the past five years.

Overall, the average global consumer spent 7.97 hours per day with media in 2022, up from 7.14 hours in 2017. The Greatest Generation use media the most, averaging 90.08 hours per week in 2022, while Millennials use digital media the most, at 23.49 hours per week. Television in all its forms remains the most used of the 11 media platforms that PQ Media tracks, reaching 27.78 hours per week in 2022.

The global economy is also a factor in media use habits. PQ Media says some media experienced a slowdown in the second half of last year as the U.S. and global economies lost momentum and recession fears emerged. It says that led middle- and lower-income consumers to cut discretionary spending on media and entertainment.

“As consumers continue to cut discretionary spending in 2023 amid current consumer sentiment and other key macroeconomic conditions, media companies have had to readjust profit projections and act accordingly," said PQ Media CEO Patrick Quinn. "As the gold rush to cash in on what appeared to be a sweeping secular shift to streaming video, audio, news, entertainment and sports was, ultimately, a non-recurring, short-term, cyclical event with resulting blowback implications on the broader economy."

Among the major trends that emerged during this year’s analysis is that media usage is reverting back to pre-pandemic trends – that included a benchmark point when traditional and digital device penetration would reach saturation.

“As early as 2018, we began to see trends emerging that portended a looming saturation point,” Quinn said. “Among the anchors slowing down media consumption is a drop in digital device shipments, leading to mobile media consumption rising at a mere single-digit rate in 2023 – the first time this has ever happened.”

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