Radio Listening Trends: AM/FM Healthy; Digital & Podcasts Growing

April 28, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Automotive | Boomers & Older | Creative & Formats | Hispanic | Media & Entertainment | Radio | Teens & Younger | Youth & Gen X

JacobsMedia-Reasons-Listening-to-AMFM-Radio-Apr2016Almost 1 in 5 AM/FM radio listeners report spending more time listening to the radio this year than last, close to twice the proportion of listeners who are tuning in less, according to the latest annual Jacobs Media Techsurvey [download page]. The study, which is based on a survey of 39,503 listeners in the US and Canada (almost entirely the US), finds that hearing their favorite songs remains the primary motivation for listeners.

Indeed, some 64% of respondents cited that as a main reason for listening to the radio, followed by liking particular DJs, shows, or hosts (58%), liking to work with the radio on (55%) and being in the habit of listening (51%).

Discover the demographic composition of terrestrial radio and internet radio listeners here.

While few radio listeners said that winning a prize is a motivation (13%), the survey separately finds that 1 in 5 play radio contests frequently, with an additional 35% playing them occasionally. These participants were split in their preferred contest methodology, be it registering on a website (35%), phoning in as the correct caller (34%) or text messaging (31%). Radio contests seem to appeal most to women (23%), Millennials (25%) and Hispanics (27%), who emerged as the groups most likely to frequently participate in these contests.

Meanwhile, among the 1 in 10 who are listening to less radio this year, most of the leading reasons are related to the programming, such as: too many commercials (41%); repetitive music (40%); and generally not enjoying the programming on AM/FM radio stations (31%).

Fewer ascribed their cut in radio listening time to an increase in time spent listening to Pandora and other similar services. Still, digital is making its mark in other ways. For example, the study reveals that 20% of total radio station usage now occurs digitally (computer stream – 12%; mobile apps – 5%; and podcasts – 3%), up from 17% in last year’s edition.

Podcasts appear to be gaining some “momentum,” per the study’s analysts, with almost 3 in 10 listening to podcasts or on-demand radio on at least a monthly basis, and 20% doing so at least weekly. (Recent research among the US 12+ population finds 21% listening at least monthly and 13% at least weekly.) The Jacobs Media report indicates that males (21%) and Millennials (31%) are the most likely to be listening to podcasts on a weekly basis. And of those who listen at least monthly, these same groups (men; Millennials) are likewise the most likely to be listening more than last year.

Digital platforms are also sources of new music, particularly for younger radio listeners. While AM/FM radio (on any device) is the primary music discovery source for listeners across age groups, 1 in 10 Gen Z respondents named Spotify their primary source for finding out about new music and new artists. An additional 1 in 10 named YouTube their primary source.

Pandora is most commonly used as a source of new music discovery by Millennials, roughly 1 in 12 (within the US) of whom cite it as their primary method for finding out about new music and new artists. Millennials are also the age group most apt to be found listening to Pandora, with 3 in 4 US Millennials professing to doing so, compared to two-thirds of Gen Xers, slightly more than 6 in 10 from Gen Z, 55% of Baby Boomers, and one-third of Silents.

Pandora listening appears to be steady: among its listeners, 27% are listening more, while 23% are listening less. For those listening less this year, the key reasons given are: the inability to skip enough songs (51%); annoying commercials (49%); the presence of more commercials (47%); and listening to other streams (42%).

Overall, among respondents who spend at least some time in a car during the average weekday, 14% listen to Pandora. That’s behind several other sources including AM/FM (93%), personal music (42%), and satellite radio (23%). In fact, AM/FM radio occupies an estimated two-thirds of in-car listening time, far ahead of satellite radio (10%) and respondents’ own music (10%). These findings are supported by a recent study from Edison Research which found commuters most likely to be listening to AM/FM radio while in the car.

About the Data: Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey12 results were gathered online from January 19 ”“ February 22, 2016. Overall, 245 radio stations across the US and Canada participated, contributing 39,503 respondents (38,718 in the US; 785 in Canada). Almost half of the respondents are Baby Boomers.

Generational breakdowns were defined as follows:

  • Gen Z – born after 2000;
  • Millennials – born 1981-2000;
  • Gen X – born 1965-1980;
  • Baby Boomers – born 1946-1964; and
  • Silents – born before 1946.

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