This week the radio industry has its biggest annual convention, the NAB and RAB Radio Show. Thousands of radio broadcasters will be gathering in Dallas to discuss the state of the industry, learn about new technologies, and do a lot of networking. With that in mind, now is a good time to assess the state of radio across all its platforms. As we’ve documented before, the traditional (terrestrial FM and AM) radio business is actually quite healthy. Traditional FM and AM radio continue to have enormous reach. The amount of time people spend by radio has been affected by the rise of digital options, but its reach remains impressive
According to Arbitron, the radio ratings firm, 93% of all people 12 and over listen to the radio each week. That enormous reach varies slightly every quarter, but the total reach has been well over 90% for decades. In fact, the newest data from Arbitron, just released this week, shows total reach increasing slightly, with the gains driven by increased listening by 18-34 adults and by minorities.
If the picture for traditional radio is solid, then the picture for Internet radio (“webcasting”) is spectacular. Triton Digital, the company that tracks online radio listening, just released its August ratings report. It shows that online radio listening has grown by 84% since August of last year. This means that despite everyone's worst fears, internet and traditional radio are both thriving. In fact, traditional broadcasters are among the most listened-to online radio services too. Many of the top 20 radio webcasters are traditional radio companies, including Clear Channel, whose iheartradio platform trailed only Pandora among webcasters.
Four webcasters showed growth of better than 50% from August 2011 to August 2012. Amazingly, Pandora, which was already the top dog, saw growth of 136% from year to year! Clear Channel’s iheartradio more than doubled, showing an increase of 119%. Univision ranked third with an increase of 66%, and Slacker had the 4th highest increase at 53%.
So while radio remains one of the least sexy of all medias, it retains enormous reach across all platforms. Traditional radio, in addition to retaining its wide reach, is also seeing its revenue increase. And on the digital side, webcasting continues to grow and more music services, such as Spotify, have added radio services as a way of continuing to fuel their growth.