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MRISimmons Weekly Media Reach US Adults Jan2021The shift towards digital media continues. More US adults are spending time with digital forms of media than have in the past, while, at the same time, more traditional forms of media such as broadcast TV and print newspapers are seeing a decline in usage, per findings from the latest edition of Marketing Charts’ US Media Audience Demographics report [purchase page].

Here’s a look at some interesting findings from the report.

1. Digital Media Now Have the Widest Reach

As the amount of time Americans spend watching traditional TV is on the decline, it’s perhaps no surprise that the proportion of respondents who say they watch downloaded or streaming video has increased. The report – based on 15 months of data ending in June 2020 – shows that about 8 in 10 (79%) US adults watched streaming videos on a weekly basis, compared to 75.4% that did so the year prior. On the other hand, the percentage who used a TV set to watch live, recorded or on-demand options shrunk from 78% in 2019 to 76.6% in 2020.

And, it’s not just streaming that has overtaken the reach of traditional TV. Some 78.9% of US adults used social media on at least a weekly basis in 2020. That reach figure also slightly exceeds that of terrestrial radio (78.1%).

2) A Majority Now Listen to Internet Radio

There has also been a jump in the share of adults who are listening to internet radio. In 2020, a majority (52%) of adults in the US reported listening to internet radio at least weekly, up from 47.7% a year earlier.

Although the bulk of internet radio listeners are younger, with those ages 18-24 being 17% more likely than average to listen to this form of media, the share of older people listening has grown. Cumulatively, adults ages 45 and older make up 48.6% of the total weekly internet radio listening audience.

3. Broadcast TV’s Audience Continues to Age

While younger adults are more apt to listen to internet radio, older Americans show a greater inclination to watch broadcast TV. Indeed, adults ages 65 and older are more likely than the youngest generation of adults (18-24-year-olds) to watch broadcast television each week. The report found that one-quarter (24.9%) of the weekly viewing audience is in the oldest age group, compared to a mere 7.2% being in the youngest.

4. Black Adults Over-Index in Cable TV Viewership

As with broadcast TV, adult who watch cable TV weekly tend to be older. More than 4 in 10 (42%) adults who watch cable TV on a weekly basis are ages 55 and older.

When it comes to the race or ethnicity of cable TV viewers, the report shows that adult Black Americans are 10% more likely than average to watch cable TV on a weekly basis. As such, about 1 in 8 (12.9%) weekly adult viewers of cable TV are Black adults.

As a matter of comparison, 16.6% of weekly adult cable TV viewers are Hispanic, but Hispanic adults are 2% less likely than average to watch cable TV.

5. National Newspapers Draw an Affluent Audience

Much like with other traditional forms of media, the reach of print newspapers has declined, dropping from 46.6% in Spring 2019 to 42% in Spring 2020.

One demographic that appears to continue its loyalty to national newspapers is affluents – those with a household income of more than $100K. This group comprises close to half (47.9%) of the average issue audience. They are also 15% more likely than average to read the average issue of a national newspaper.

If you’re interested in more detailed stats about traditional, online and social media audiences, head on over here to get your copy of our report, which breaks down the reach and demographic composition of several major media audiences. The 54-page report, packed with 45 charts and tables, also provides a series of cheat sheets that compare traditional, online and social channels across demographic variables so you can quickly see which are the most likely to attract different groups.

About the Data: Spring 2020 study data is based on a continuously fielded survey of approximately 25,000 US adults that spans a 15-month period ending in June 2020.

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