Share Of Ear Q4 2020: Radio Dominates Ad-Supported Audio Platforms.


Radio’s Share of Ear, filtered through the lens of ad-supported audio, remained dominant in fourth quarter 2020, according to new data released Monday. AM/FM radio captured 74% of time spent with ad-supported audio, according to Edison Research data analyzed by Westwood One. That’s 11 times bigger than ad-supported Pandora and 19 times larger than ad-supported Spotify.


The numbers reflect only ad-supported platforms and exclude audio sources such as owned music, and the ad-free, subscription-based offerings of Spotify, Pandora and SiriusXM. But even when those are included, broadcast radio retained the largest share of audio listening of any media at 39% in Q4 2020, as reported earlier by Inside Radio.


The Westwood analysis narrows the scope to outlets that accept advertising since that what advertisers care about. “Advertisers cannot check the box on audio without AM/FM radio,” Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media/Westwood One, says in a post on the Everyone’s Listening blog.


Despite the impact of the pandemic, radio remains dominant in the car, with an 88% share of ad-supported audio among persons 18+, unchanged from Q4 2019. This figure has hovered just below or just above the 90% mark since Edison began the “Share of Ear” study in 2015. “AM/FM radio owns the ‘last mile’ of shopping trips before purchases are made,” Bouvard observes.


While radio’s supremacy among ad-supported audio remains unwavering, podcasting has doubled its share of the ad-supported audio pie. Podcasts garnered a 12% Share of Ear in Q4 2020, up from 6% at the same point in 2019. That allowed it, for the first time, to jump past ad-supported Pandora which declined from 8% to 7%. Ad-supported Spotify remained fourth with a 4% share and ad-supported SiriusXM, which only includes its spoken word channels that carry ads and not its core music offering, dipped to 3% from 4% year-over-year to stay in fifth place.


Keep in mind that some of the ad-supported Spotify share includes podcast listening. Edison says that 14% of listening to Spotify is to podcasts.


From there, the analysis looked at audience duplication among 25-54 year-olds across podcasting, AM/FM radio streaming and over-the-air AM/FM radio and the incremental reach advertisers can get when combining these platforms.


Among those that are listening to AM/FM radio streaming, two-thirds also listen to over-the-air AM/FM radio. With that high degree of audience duplication, Westwood says adding AM/FM radio streaming to over-the-air AM/FM radio generates a 6% lift in incremental reach.

But there is less audience duplication between AM/FM streaming and podcasting. Just over one third (36%) of AM/FM radio streaming audiences also listen to podcasting. That means adding AM/FM radio streaming to podcasts generates a 36% lift in incremental reach. And About 62% of podcast listeners also listen to over-the-air AM/FM radio which means that adding podcasting to AM/FM radio generates a 12% increase in incremental reach.


Another top takeaway from is that podcasting’s daily reach grew significantly among persons 18-34 in the last year. As of Q4 2020, podcasting’s daily reach was 25.8% of persons 18-34, per Edison Share of Ear, a 53% year-over-year increase from 16.9% in Q4 2019.The weekly reach is even greater.


Multi-cultural podcast daily reach has also grown sharply over the last year. African American 18-34 reach is up 52% and Hispanic 18-34 reach is up +22%.


A four-year comparison of Share of Ear data reveals ad-supported Pandora and Spotify shares have dropped from 12% share in 2016 to 11% in 2020. Over the same period, podcast shares increased 4 times, from 3% to 12%.


During the four-year period, Spotify’s ad-supported shares have grown from 3% to 4%. The vast majority of Spotify’s growth has occurred with its ad-free subscription service. About two-thirds of time spent with Spotify is devoted to its advertising-free subscription service.


While there was a time that digital audio just meant music streaming, Bouvard says that’s no longer the case.“In 2021, digital audio increasingly means immersive spoken word via podcasting.”

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