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Radio has the broadest reach of any medium, and with new devices such as smart speakers potentially augmenting rather than detracting from the listening experience, it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon. But what formats are winning when it comes to capturing audience share? Nielsen’s latest data shines a light.

News/talk radio continues to capture the largest share of the audience, with 10% of all listening being on this format from January-November last year among those age 6 and up. Following News/Talk, which likely benefited from the election cycle, 8% of US radio listeners were tuned into adult contemporary during any given 15-minute period of the day (up from 7.5% in 2016), with Country coming third at 7.3%.

Compared to two years ago, pop contemporary hit radio (pop CHR) has fallen from its previous second place position. In 2016, it commanded 8.1% of the listening, while in 2018 it was down to 6.9%.

As before, there are significant differences when it comes to various age groups. Unlike the entire 6+ listening population, the leading category for 18-34 year-olds was Pop CHR, with 10.7% of the average quarter hour segments being tuned to this format. For those slightly older and between 25-54 years of age, this was also the leading category, with 8% share. By contrast, News/Talk radio captured only 4.3% and 7.0% share with these age groups, respectively.

Country music also commanded an above-average share for the Millennial age group, with 8.5% of listening hours being tuned to such stations. When compared to all listeners, Millennials also showed a higher preference for Urban Contemporary and Hot Adult Contemporary (Hot AC).

Adults age 25-54  were also more likely to listen to these two contemporary formats than the general population. They were also slightly more likely to be tuned in to Sports radio (4.8% vs. 4.4% of all PPM panelists).

About the Data: Figures come from Nielsen’s Portable People Meter (PPM) data for January to November 2018 and is inclusive of multicultural audiences.

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