Digital Platforms Extend Radio beyond AM/FM

June 1, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Media & Entertainment | Radio

While maintaining broad use of AM/FM radio, consumers continue to explore radio in all its digital platforms – Online Radio, Satellite Radio, HD Radio, and audio podcasting, according to a recent study by Arbitron and Edison Media Research.

Key findings from “The Infinite Dial 2007: Radio’s Digital Platforms” report:

AM/FM radio continues to have a significant impact on people’s lives: The study asked consumers to rate the impact that various digital audio platforms has on their lives. Nearly one in five (19%) said radio has a big impact on their lives – second only to mobile phones (35%).


Those who listen to digital radio platforms do not spend less time listening to AM/FM radio: Among all persons 12 and older who participated in the study, the average time spent listening per day to AM/FM radio was 2 hours, 37 minutes, compared with 2 hours, 45 minutes a day among those who use radio’s newer digital platforms (listened to online radio in the last month, or subscribe to satellite radio, or have ever listened to an audio podcast).


The weekly internet radio audience remained steady over the past year at an estimated 29 million: 11% of the US population age 12+ said they had listened to internet radio in the past week; some 16% of persons age 18-34, and 14% of persons 18-49, said they had done so.


iPod/portable MP3 player ownership continues to increase: 30% of Americans age 12+ own an iPod or other brand of portable MP3 player; that’s up from 22% in 2006 and 14% in 2005. More than half (54%) of those age 12-17 own a digital audio player.

Fewer than 10% report less time with over-the-air radio specifically due to time spent with their iPod/portable MP3 player: 70% of Americans age 12+ do not own an iPod/portable MP3 player, and an additional 15% say the device has had no impact on radio listening; 9% say they are listening less to over-the-air radio due to time spent with their iPod/portable MP3 player.

Awareness of the two satellite radio companies has essentially not changed in the past year: Although after Howard Stern’s move from FM to SIRIUS Satellite Radio generated a large increase in awareness, the level of awareness for both SIRIUS and XM has hovered around 60% in the last two years.


Awareness of HD Radio nearly doubled in the past year, but interest in it is not high: In January 2007, 26% said they had heard or read about HD Radio recently, compared with 14% in January 2006; however, only 6% said they were “very” interested in HD Radio.

Though awareness of podcasting is up significantly, usage is up only slightly: Awareness of podcasting jumped from 22% in 2006 to 37% in 2007, and the proportion of those who have ever listened to an audio podcast increased from 11% to 13%.


“On a weekly basis, AM/FM radio is used by the overwhelming majority of Americans, and it continues to have a big impact on the lives of consumers,” said Bill Rose, SVP of Marketing, Arbitron Inc.
“In addition, the widely held perception that people who use new digital platforms listen less to over-the-air radio is false. In fact, users of digital radio platforms spend just as much time listening to over-the-air radio as the average consumer.”

About the study: A total of 1,855 people were interviewed to investigate Americans’ use of various forms of traditional, online and satellite media; from January 17 to February 18, 2007, telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older chosen at random from a national sample of Arbitron’s Fall 2006 survey diarykeepers.

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