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Study Portrays NFL Broadcasts On Radio As ‘Reach Machine.’

With Nielsen PPM data showing the enormous men 25-54 AQH audience shares delivered by local radio play-by-play broadcasts of NFL games, there are new numbers showing the massive reach of radio network NFL broadcasts. “The NFL on AM/FM radio is a reach machine,” according to the 2023 NFL Listening Report from Westwood One. The network’s season-long audience for NFL broadcasts is 56 million people, according to a Nielsen analysis of PPM tuning. This reflects the network radio play-by-play broadcasts of the NFL’s Monday night, Sunday night and Thursday night games.

That’s a cumulative number that includes all of the different listeners that tune in across the entire season to the NFL on 700 radio station affiliates. In the first week of the season, seven million unique consumers tune in, per the report. Over the course of September, the unique audience expands to 18 million. The cume number continues to rise each successive week, reaching 46 million different Americans over the entire regular season. It adds an additional 10 million listeners who were not reached during the regular season, lifting the season-long reach to 56 million. “There are new, different unique listeners showing up to the Westwood one broadcasts,” says Pierre Bouvard, Chief Marketing Officer of the Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group.

The Nielsen analysis shows the NFL network radio audience is not listening to all four quarters. “There's a chunk that’s listening for three quarters, some that are listening for one,” Bouvard explains. “These are folks that are coming and going, perhaps in their car, perhaps at work. The point is, you don't have the same audience every quarter of the game.”

‘Significantly More Engaged’

While most play-by-play sports are available both on TV and radio, each broadcast has a very different audience profile. According to MRI-Simmons, the TV audience consists of casual sports fans, while the AM/FM radio play-by-play audience is far more passionate and engaged.

Says Bouvard, “They are twice as likely to have actually attended any sports event, twice as likely to have a sports app on their phone that they've used in the last 30 days, twice as likely to have someone ask them for their advice on sports, twice as likely to be an influential sports category consumer, and twice as likely to have participated in a fantasy sports league in the last year.”

In addition, AM/FM radio listeners are more likely to be sports bettors, according to Nielsen Scarborough.

NFL play-by-play radio audiences, whether listening to a network feed or a local broadcast, are much more upscale. Compared to average Americans, NFL AM/FM radio audiences are 27% more likely to be a college graduate employed full time with a household income of $75K+; 30% more likely to be a college graduate employed full time with a household income of $100K+; and 38% more likely to be a college graduate employed full time with an individually-earned income of $100K+ “In the car, the AM/FM radio NFL play-by-play broadcast is the best available screen for employed and upscale sports fans,” the NFL Listening Report says.

In other qualitative findings from the 51-page report, NFL play-by-play radio listeners are much more likely to influence others in making purchases. MRI Simmons found that the NFL radio audience on Westwood One versus the NFL TV audience is more receptive to advertising.

With the NFL’s Thursday night game available for viewing exclusively on Amazon, the study makes a case for advertisers to use radio to reach the 55% of consumers (about 45.7 million people) who have watched NFL Thursday night football in the past 12 months but are not Amazon Prime members.

Download the 2023 NFL Listening Report HERE.

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