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Despite what the song says, video hasn’t kill the radio star. In fact, according to a new report [download page] from Nielsen, more than 270 million Americans ages 6 and older listen to the radio each week. And, with about half of brands agreeing that digital audio is a strong medium for conversion, it’s worth looking at what this medium has to offer today.

1. Radio Reaches the Biggest Audience

Radio reaches more people on a weekly basis than any other platform, including TV and smartphones. A full 92% of American adults (ages 18 and older) are reached by radio weekly, compared to 87% of adults reached by TV and 81% by smartphones.

Not only that, with 244.5 million monthly users, radio has more monthly users than any single digital platform. It beats out the likes of social media sites (177.8 million monthly users), search sites (190.9 million users) and e-commerce site (144.5 million) in terms of monthly reach.

Radio’s leading reach, both weekly and monthly, spans almost all age ranges. The only deviation is for those Americans 50 years old and older where TV has a slightly higher weekly reach than radio (93% vs. 91%).

2. Country Is the Top Radio Format

With only a few exceptions, Country radio is the top radio format for Americans. While Country is the top format overall, the top format for teens (12-17-year-olds) is Pop Contemporary Hits. Additionally, Nielsen reports that Mexican Regional formats have the greatest reach with Hispanics 12 years old and older, while Urban Adult Contemporary has the most reach among Black Americans in the same age range.

3. Most Listening Happens In Cars

No matter what day of the week it is, Americans tend to listen to the radio more outside the home than within it. Moreover, two-thirds (66%) of all out-of-home listening happens in the car, with the highest percentages happening during weekday drive times (71%) and weekends (79%). This corresponds with earlier Infinite Dial data which found that for those who had been in a car in the month prior to the survey, 81% had listened to AM/FM radio.

For advertisers trying to get the attention of adults, the prime time for listening on the weekdays starts at about 7 a.m. and remains relatively steady until it reaches a peak between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. during drive time. Teens, on the other hand, are best reached either between 6 a.m and 7 a.m and then again after school hours between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

4. Who Listens to Podcasts?

A recent media outlook from PwC predicated that podcast advertising will see strong growth through the year 2023 to reach $1.4 billion. As podcasts become more of a focus for advertisers, who is the average listener?

Per Nielsen’s data on past-30 day podcast listeners, the average adult podcast listener is 39 years old and is wealthier than the average American, with a household income of $96.5K. They are also more likely to be male (57% versus 43% female) and white (67%). It’s worth noting that this data is taken from research conducted more than a year ago. Yet despite podcasts’ reach growing during that timeframe, it’s unlikely that the core demographic make-up of listeners has changed too drastically.

Some 9 in 10 podcast listeners also tune in to the radio weekly. However, Country doesn’t fit into their top 3 formats – instead, that top spot goes to Pop Contemporary Hits.

While podcasts are still a small market, research does indicate that it will continue to grow rapidly and that listeners are typically from higher-earning groups, so watch this space.

And as for Smart Speakers, ownership of which is also growing strongly, Nielsen also shows that households with a Smart Speaker have an annual income in the six figures ($109,500).

To read more of the report, download it here.

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