How Various Demographic Groups Listen to the Radio

March 8, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Boomers & Older | Hispanic | Men | Radio | Women | Youth & Gen X

Nielsen-US-Radio-Listeners-Profile-Mar2016With 93% of US adults listening to radio on a weekly basis, radio is the leading reach platform, reminds Nielsen in a recent report [download page]. So when and where do different demographic groups tune in, and which formats are their favorites? The study analyzes consumption trends among various generations, also looking at Hispanic and African-American engagement.

[Editor’s note: For data about the demographic composition of terrestrial and internet radio – by age, household income, and race/ethnicity – see MarketingCharts’ recent study, US Media Audience Demographics.]

Among the generations, Millennials represent the largest generation of radio listeners in terms of sheer size, with 66.5 million tuning in each week, according to Nielsen’s study. Radio’s reach is highest among Gen Xers (95%), though, while Boomers spend the most time each week with radio, at more than 15 hours.

Interestingly, the top daypart for listening varies by generation, with Gen Xers most engaged during the morning drive (6AM-10AM), Boomers during the mid day (10AM-3PM) and Gen Xers during the evening drive (3PM-7PM). Not surprisingly, the majority of listening takes place out of the home, though this doesn’t necessarily relate to employment status. For example, while Millennials are on par with Gen Xers in terms of the share of listening that takes place out of the home (75% in each case), Gen X listeners are considerably more likely to be employed full-time than Millennial listeners (72% and 55%, respectively).

Interestingly, Millennial listeners who are employed full-time spend more time listening to the radio (12 hours per week) than the Millennial listeners overall (11 hours and 9 minutes).

Also of note, country is the top format across generations, and captured 14.4% share of all radio listening in 2015. News/talk (10.7% share) and pop contemporary radio (8%) were the next-largest formats by share of total listening last year.

When looking at race and ethnicity (12+ population), the study indicates that:

  • Radio’s reach is greater among Hispanics (97%) than African Americans (92%); though
  • African-American listeners spend slightly more time on a weekly basis (20 minutes) than Hispanic listeners.

In contrast to Hispanics and American adults across generations, African-Americans are the only group analyzed to have a female listener skew, as a slight majority (52%) of listeners aged 12 and older are female.


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