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September 5, 2017

Everyone Is Listening to Radio: The Industry Strikes Back


Surprise: A Slam Piece On AM/FM Radio Gets It Wrong 

[Read the report this author says got it wrong]

By: Pierre Bouvard (Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus | Westwood One)

A streaming music royalty organization has issued a report that incorrectly asserts the demise of AM/FM radio among younger Americans.

To check the facts, we turned to Nielsen’s Portable People Meter listening data. PPM was fully commercialized at the end of 2010, so we compared listening from May of 2011 to May of 2017. Here’s what we found:

1. AM/FM radio reach is rock steady among kids 6-11, teens, and 18-24s. From May 2011 to May 2017 the number of listeners in the three demographics is virtually unchanged.


2. The older you are, the more you listen. As consumers age, they have more available time to spend with media. Time spent with AM/FM radio progressively grows from kids 6-11, teens, 18-24, and 25-34. A similar pattern occurred in 2011. AM/FM radio is the soundtrack of the American worker. As consumers enter the workforce, AM/FM radio time spent grows. Nielsen finds teens from six years ago, now 18-to-24-year olds, spend more time with AM/FM radio.

3. Each week, AM/FM radio reaches 90% of younger Americans.

4. AM/FM radio remains the number one source of music discovery.

5. For advertisers targeting 18-34 Millennials, AM/FM radio is America’s number one mass reach media. Nielsen recently issued a massive analysis of 500 return on investment studies of ad campaigns. Campaign reach was the number one media factor that creates sales lift. To drive sales, an ad campaign has to reach a lot of people. According to Nielsen’s Comparable Metrics Report, AM/FM radio is number one in 18-34 Millennial reach beating TV, social media, smartphone video, and audio streaming.

The moral of the story: don’t always believe everything you read, especially from streaming music royalty organizations.

In summary:

  • AM/FM radio reach is rock steady among kids 6-11, teens, and 18-24s
  • The older you are, the more you listen
  • Each week, AM/FM radio reaches 90% of younger Americans
  • AM/FM radio remains the number one source of music discovery
  • For advertisers targeting 18-34 Millennials, AM/FM radio is America’s number one mass reach media

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