The recently released Q2 2017 Nielsen Comparable Metrics Report, which offers an in-depth apples-to-apples comparison of major media platforms—traditional radio, television, computers, smartphones, game consoles and tablets—is stirring plenty of notice, thanks to some mighty rosy statistics about broadcast radio.
For one, Nielsen Audio managing director Brad Kelly was invited to write a guest column for MediaVillage—an influential trade publication founded by Jack Myers—to show how radio stacks up against other media platforms.
The banner for traditional broadcasters surrounds this big fat factoid, as Kelly references from the report in his guest piece: Each week, more Americans tune into AM/FM radio than watch television, or use smartphones, tablets or computers. At the same time, streaming audio offers consumers even more ways to listen across many of those same devices.
He writes, “Each year, there are more and more ways to listen to information and entertainment in America. Radio, on-demand streaming, podcasts, digital radio services, satellite radio… the list continues to grow. Furthermore, there is little doubt that we are in a golden age of media overall, as content is available everywhere and across all devices. Yet, according to Nielsen’s second quarter 2017 Comparable Metrics Report, radio remains the top way to reach consumers across all media platforms.”
Nielsen compared media platforms, evaluating usage based on three simple metrics: how many, how often and how long. AM/FM radio—both over-the-air stations and their online streams—was also held up to all forms of streaming audio, including apps and websites that stream both music and talk.
When it comes to “how many,” Nielsen found that AM/FM radio continues to reach more people each week than any other medium in the U.S. at 228.5 million adults 18+. Compare that with 216.5 million for TV (live, DVR and time-shifted), 204 million for app/web on a smartphone, and 127.6 million for video on a smartphone. Looking at the audio landscape, broadcast radio’s weekly reach of 228.5 million also outpaces the 67.6 million using streaming audio, 35.9 million using satellite radio and 20.7 million consuming podcasts.
Looking at “how often,” quite simply, Americans use radio five days per week, compared to three days for streaming on smartphones and tablets and two days for streaming on a computer, the study finds. And for “how long,” by understanding the reach (how many) and frequency of use (how often) for each form of audio, time spent (how long) was calculated for both radio and streaming audio. The result: When comparing gross minutes (the total time spent summed for all 18+ users), radio outpaces streaming audio by a factor of 14:1 in an average week.
Adding up the total minutes for AM/FM radio and streaming audio equates to more than 202 billion minutes per week, with AM/FM representing 93% of total weekly minutes compared with roughly seven percent for streaming audio.
“As technology drives all media usage forward the audio landscape continues to expand with even more options for consumers,” Kelly writes for MediaVillage. “Through all of the changes, AM/FM radio continues to reach more people and garners the most time spent with audio.”
The latest Nielsen Comparable Metrics Report is also cited by Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer at Cumulus Media, on Westwood One’s Everyone’s Listening blog. “The AM/FM radio reality is full of surprises,” Bouvard writes. He focused on statistics in the report that reveal that each day, Americans spend 3X more time with AM/FM radio than social media. According to Nielsen’s report, adults spend an hour and 50 minutes a day with AM/FM radio, and 36 minutes with social media on their smartphone.
Digging down, Millennials – perhaps surprisingly to some – spend twice as much time with AM/FM radio versus smartphone social media. According to Nielsen, they spend one hour and 30 minutes with AM/FM radio and 44 minutes using social media on their smartphone. For Gen X, 35-49s spend 2.6X more time with AM/FM radio than social media: one hour and 55 minutes for AM/FM radio compared to 44 minutes on social media on their smartphone. And among Boomer adults 50+, AM/FM radio time spent is 4.5X social, with 2 hours for AM/FM radio versus 27 minutes with social media.
Overall, according to Nielsen, 17% of all U.S. media time spent goes to AM/FM radio. That 17% share of time spent is identical among 18-34s, 35-49s, and 50+.