Okay, is there anyone listening to the radio anymore? You may be asking this question out of concern for the industry as a participant. Perhaps, you run an online radio station and can't seem to figure out why your audience numbers are not up!
The continual rise and adoption of new music streaming platforms such as Spotify also seems to pose a danger to radio. Podcasts may be said to compete with radio for a share of the audience's attention. Radio has been around for over 100 years, and it is as old-school as it gets. That’s why you may be also questioning if radio is still popular.
We will use a fact-based method to determine if radio is still popular by looking at radio listenership statistics from 2019 to 2021. You'll also see reasons why radio is still popular:
Radio listening statistics 2019
According to the Nielsen Total Audience Report, Q1 2019:
● Radio reached an audience of 92% every week in the US far surpassing other media platforms, including streaming on smartphones with a share of 50%, satellite radio 16%, and streaming audio on tablets 20%.
● All adults (18 years +) spent about 1 hour and 42 minutes listening to the radio, with those 18 to 24 spending 1 hour 20 minutes, and 50 to 64 years old spending the most time at 2 hours 5 minutes.
● Regarding the total time spent per platform, radio listenership came second in every age bracket to Live+ and Time-shift TV.
Based on RAJAR Findings Q4 2019 for the UK market:
● Listening on DAB radio for the first time surpassed listening through FM;
● Radio listenership via online and apps experienced a growth of 30%, and accounted for 12.5% of all listenership for radio in Q4 2019
Radio listening statistics 2020
2020 was a defining year for the radio industry. Normal listenership habits were disrupted, birthing new insights. Nielsen noted the presence of two sets of consumers, those that remained mobile throughout because they were often essential workers, and the second class of consumers that contributed to a decline of automobile listenership because they largely remained at home. For instance, there was a notable decrease in listenership in April and May, but Neilsen predicted a recovery come fall. Now, here are some relevant radio listenership statistics for 2020.
According to The Infinite Dial 2020 Report by Edison Research:
● Over 220 million residents over the age of 12 years in the USA were aware of smart speakers
● 42% of 18 to 34-year-olds owned about one to three radios, with 6% owning four radios or more
According to Statista’s US Media Use time:
● The average daily time spent listening to the radio per adult in the US from 2015 to 2020 entailed 111 minutes (Q1, 2015), 112 (Q1, 2016), 111 (Q1, 2017), 106 (Q1, 2018), 102 (Q1, 2019), and 99 (Q1, 2020).
RadioCentre’s research interestingly noted that:
● Commercial radio listeners were listening more to radio than pre-pandemic levels;
● 90% of respondents stated that radio helped them keep in touch with the outside world, with 84% stating that it kept them company;
The On the Road to Recovery with Am/Fm Radio Report by Nielsen further revealed that: :
● Radio had a reach of 88% in Q3, 2020 among users aged 18 years+;
● In fall 2020 (Oct), Radio listenership was 97% of what it was in pre-covid levels in March 2020.
● Most of the radio listenership continued to be out of home, with home listenership contributing to a 29% share in March, 38% in May, and 31% in October.
Radio listening statistics 2021
According to[ NZ Commercial Radio Ratings](https://www.gfk.com/hubfs/ANZ MEDIA/NZ/press_releases/2021/S1 2021/kadGfK NZ Commercial Radio Ratings Media Release S1 2021.pdf):
● 82% of New Zealand’s population or 3.73 million aged 10 years+ tuned in to radio each week, with 76% tuning in to commercial radio, as of Q1 2021 metrics;
● The average listener tuned in for a total of 16 hours 8 minutes.
Stay updated on this year’s radio listenership figures. RAJAR announced that it would be publishing its Q3 2021 figures on October 27th, 2021, with Q4 figures expected by 2nd February 2021.
Why is Radio Still Popular?
Is radio dying in 2020? No, and it's clear from the various statistics and industry reports that radio is as resilient as ever. It continues to connect with more consumers than any other platform. Now you may ask: Why is radio still popular?
1) It has a prime position on the center car console
Think about it, listening to the radio is pretty much straightforward from the moment you step into a car. Most radio listenership still takes place inside vehicles, with programs oriented for the car listener, including morning and afternoon drive time shows. In-car listenership is appealing to advertisers because radio listeners are away from home and near areas where they make the most purchases.
2) Free & ubiquitous
Listening to the radio is pretty much free because it's advertiser-funded, unlike with some streaming platforms. The capacity and capability to listen to radio stations is ubiquitous as listeners can tune in through their phones, car consoles, Hi-Fi systems, smart speakers, and any internet-enabled device with audio capabilities.
3) New delivery platforms
Radio is quite adaptable and has shown its resilience by being present on newer delivery platforms. For instance, with the adoption of digital car dashboards, listeners can still tune in to internet radio stations or DAB stations.
4) Mass appeal
Radio has a general appeal to all audiences and demographics. That means that while a radio station may have a core demographic, it may still draw younger and older generations.
5) Music discovery
Many people still use the radio as a tool for music discovery, even if they still listen to on-demand audio through music streaming platforms.
6) Radio is more than Music
You can never get the same experience listening to on-demand content as you get with live radio. Listeners get to form a special bond with the presenters. Radio also plays an important role in our social life by hosting political debates, interviews, and discussions. It's also quite informative with educational programs, traffic updates, weather forecasts, and news.
Are Internet Radio Stations Becoming Popular?
Online radio listenership has been steadily climbing in the last decade. Statista reports that the share of online monthly radio listeners in the US has been steadily rising with more US consumers having listened to online radio than before.
Admittedly listening online is set to become more popular because of various reasons.
People are becoming acquainted with online radio stations as terrestrial radios promote their apps. The proliferation of smart speakers has similarly made online radio more accessible. Radio stations can create their own skills, making it easier for listeners to add various radio stations to their smart speakers.
It’s clear that audiences are still listening, and replacing radio entirely is impossible. While there has been increased competition for the limited audience attention, the only way to survive is to find more ways to keep listeners coming back by creating engaging content.