African-Americans Top Media Users

According to a custom survey by Nielsen with Essence, African-Americans consume more content, engage and connect, than other groups on all fronts, through various mainstream and niche media outlets and platforms. In a consumer marketplace cluttered with options, African-Americans choose the best-fit media outlets for news gathering and entertainment purposes, reporting above-average consumption across each platform.

African-Americans watch the most television of any group, watching nearly 200 hours per month, roughly 60 more hours than the total audience. While blacks watch more live television than other groups, says the report, levels of time-shifted and video-on-demand viewing are increasing as well, furthering the notion this group of consumers is multifaceted in their approach to viewing their favorite broadcast and cable programs.

African-American consumers still trust print. 52% of the black consumers Nielsen surveyed were more likely to be voracious readers of magazines, which is 30% higher than the general population.

African-American Involvement in Media 

Time Spent On

African Americans

General Population

Traditional TV

201:43 hrs./month

141.19 hrs./mo.

Read magazines



Radio (hours weekly)

12 hrs./week

6 hrs./week

Source: Nielsen/Essence, February 2015

Culture and heritage are drivers of preferred reading choices for blacks. Among survey respondents, African-American focused magazines and newspapers were important and provided information about products and deals. 59% of African-Americans agreed that advertisers in black newspapers, specifically, know how to connect with black audiences. Because of blacks’ strong affinity for culture-rich content, general-market outlets have established niche websites that offer a space for African-American-inspired stories on digital platforms.

In a recent Nielsen report, where 10,000 African-American adults were surveyed, 92% said they tune into radio each week, listening for more than 12 hours, which is 5% longer than the total audience. Peak listening hours are between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., with 61% of the listening occurring outside of the home.

Top-ranked radio formats for African-Americans with audiences that are more than 70% black are Urban Contemporary, Adult Urban Contemporary and Rhythmic Contemporary. Other influential formats include Gospel and Urban oldies, which maintain 90% of black audiences.

African-American consumers have embraced technology, are avid users in this space, and have become vocal mainstays in popular social media and blogging channels. Smartphone penetration is 81%, slightly edging the total population by 7%. On a monthly basis, blacks spend close to 56 hours using apps or mobile Internet browsers on their smartphones and about two and a half hours watching videos on their smartphones. Additionally, 81% of African-Americans are more likely to show support for a favorite company or brand using social media, and 76% are more likely to share opinions by posting reviews and ratings online.

For additional information from Nielsen, including reference to source material, please visit here.

2 comments about "African-Americans Top Media Users".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, February 23, 2015 at 10:34 a.m.

    There are some pretty strange numbers here, Jack. I checked the Nielsen release and it does have the same chart which indicates that only 22% of the total population reads magazines and the average person spends only 6 hours a week listening to radio. These two findings come from the "custom" study and are completely at odds with what MRI and Nielsen Audio ( formerly Arbitron ) report about magazines and radio. MRI, typically, finds that approximately 85% of the adults surveyed read at least one of the magazines it measures while Nielsen Audio reports about two hours per person per day----or 14 per week----as the listening norm. It may be that the figures in the table are for "voracious" readers and/or listeners---- whatever that means----but they certainly do not describe the total population's consumption of the two media. As a side comment, I find it really strange that no one from the magazine or radio industries has challenged these figures. Go figure.

  2. cara marcano from reporte hispano, February 23, 2015 at 5:12 p.m.

    Hispanics and black people LOVE print. Print is alive and well. It drives sales and people love it and can engage with it and blacks and Hispanics trust it more than they trust anything else out there - including most major brands and most other media. It IS = pretty astounding the level of misinformation out there about this TRUTH. Look at how many wealthy powerful men are invested in Newspapers - Carlos Slim, Warren Buffett. Look how many big-time media planners charged with real sales growth at big agencies start conversations with their print media rep like this "Hello, Print is dead and I will not speak to you about print. Good-bye." Click. And don't even let the client engage. Look how many clients accept this as media planning. Look how many clients throw hundred of millions of dollars at folks who would start a media conversation that way, with a blanket assumption not based in fact. Then look at those folks, those CMOs who do that act surprised when they loose their jobs for lack of sales growth. It is shocking actually.
    There is a lot of bias and misinformation about the value of print and what percentage of a good media plan designed for sales growth should be invested in say, Hispanic newspapers. One should ask WHY? Why this level of misinformation and assumed bias not backed by research? Why would a client accept this? Are they shorting their own companies stock ? Agencies make more money on TV creative and traditionally many companies are so focused on an efficiency play that they white-wash out a lot of great black and Spanish-language Hispanic creative b/c they want to save money and time and make everything "easy". "We can't afford black and Hispanic creative" and we don't need it b/c everyone is now white in America. It is pretty astonishing the conversations that go on and that will have to change if many of the companies in the Fortune 500 want to grow sales. The truth is blacks and hispanics are leading the way and leading with multicultural insights means lead with the black and hispanic messaging and media first. How many brands in the US really do this. And if not, WHY not? Some real mismanagement of fund and creative energy to the detriment of sales if not stock prices. Print is growing sales for a lot of folks who get it in Hispanic and black marketing who get that Hispanic and black marketing well today = is marketing well today. That without this you can't call yourself a good CEO, or a good CMO or a good marketer for that matter. This can be fixed if folks try. Call me or message me if you want help in this area.
    Cara Marcano
    Reporte Hispano
    Black and Hispanic print media made efficiently and effectively planned and bought for sales growth
    Director, Board of Directors, National Association of Hispanic Publications

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