Two long-time media research firms, Nielsen and Edison, have just released separate studies showing the power of over the air radio. Last year Nielsen added long-time radio ratings service, Arbitron, to its portfolio of media measurement services. Audio is a big part of the media landscape and Nielsen is reflecting that importance with its new report, State of the Media: Audio Today 2014. The company says that this report will become a quarterly project.
The top line finding of the initial Nielsen report is that FM/AM radio continues to reach more than 90% of the population each week. Other audio platforms are growing, but terrestrial radio’s reach, according to Matt O’Grady, Nielsen’s EVP & Managing Director, “stretches across demographics, ethnicities and geographies as listeners engage every day with stations in their local markets on matters important to them.”


Here are some of the key numbers from the Nielsen study:

  • 242 million people listen to audio every week
  • Radio reaches 91.7% of all Americans age 12 and over
  • Listening averages more than 2 ½ hours per day. Baby Boomers listening more than any other group.
  • 7-8am is the highest rated hour for listening during the day
  • Midday (10am-3pm) – not morning drive – is the highest-rated daypart. In fact, with Millenials, afternoon drive is the highest rated daypart
  • The Top 5 formats are

    1. Country
    2. News/Talk
    3. Top 40
    4. Adult  Contemporary
    5. Classic Hits

Meanwhile, Edison Media research has released its own study of listening, to both over the air radio and digital platforms. Edison’s numbers for terrestrial radio listening are virtually identical to Nielsen’s:

  12+ 18-34
Nielsen 91.7% 90.3%
Edison 90% 88%

Edison’s latest study goes into more depth on other platforms too. This is where demographics make a difference. Younger demos, the Millenials, are much more likely to use new audio platforms. For example, 80% of the 18-34s listen to web radio vs. just 53% of everyone 12+. Millenials lead the way with personalized radio too, 67% vs.39% of the total survey.
Larry Rosin, Edison’s president, presented his company’s latest findings yesterday at the IAB Digital Audio Agency Day session in New York. Rosin had good news for both over the air  radio, as well as digital services. “We don’t see a lot of evidence of people listening to less AM-FM radio,” he told attendees, “It’s that they’re listening to more Internet radio.”


– Pat Welsh