Many folks in the media business accept at face value the false narrative that young people (aka Millennials) have stopped listening to radio. It’s easy to fall for this trope if you aren’t paying close attention to what Millennials value in terms of content. If you are paying close attention, The facts suggest otherwise.
Since its inception, radio has enabled people to experience breaking news and current events in real-time, while also increasing its influence on our culture by perpetually introducing us to new personalities and artists. Radio has uniquely connected us to the larger world from our homes and our cars. Today, consumers are increasingly searching for news and entertainment consumption on the go, and the marriage of smartphones and audio content has transformed us into a world of listeners – the earbud generation – creating our own space in a crowded world through sound. In this new, mobile-first world, Radio stands out and has proven to prevail yet again. Yes, even among Millennials.
As the audio industry faces a realignment that includes streaming platforms and satellite radio, some claim that Pandora and Spotify will threaten the reach of AM/FM stations. This is not the first time we are seeing claims of radio’s demise. It’s an old, tired trope. According to the Gallup Polls in 1949, a quarter of the United States population believed radio was doomed as television sets were introduced. Not only did AM/FM radio weather the growth of television, but it remains the number one consumer reach medium in the U.S., according to Nielsen. Radio has the most active users per month, totaling to 240 million consumers a month. AM/FM stations reach 97 percent of the U.S. adult population.
While we see the rise of streaming platforms like Pandora and Spotify, they are not directly threatening radio’s reach. AM/FM stations reach significantly more people than their streaming counterparts. According to Edison Research, 74 percent of adults in the U.S. listen to AM/FM stations daily, while only 15 percent are choosing Pandora and 6 percent are choosing Spotify. This puts AM/FM in the position to reach five times as many daily listeners as Pandora. Consumers are turning to streaming sites to personalize their music, regularly disrupting CD sales; however, 67 percent of Pandora listeners and 67 percent of Spotify listeners also incorporate AM/FM stations into their daily listening routine.
The media pie is growing each year. The average time spent per day on the internet, tablets, smartphones, and radio has grown by 10 percent since 2015, according to Nielsen. Platforms like AM/FM radio, however, continue to make up the largest part of the media usage, with the most consistent share of time spent across all demographics in the U.S. Perhaps the biggest reason that streaming platforms such as Pandora and Spotify have not threatened AM/FM radio usage is due to the fact that consumers have a deep emotional connection to their favorite stations and local personalities. While streaming platforms “target” their consumer growth, radio seeks to build personal relationships with their listeners. According to a USC Annenberg study, 82 percent of radio listeners perceive a deep connection with their favorite radio personalities, with 62 percent sharing what they hear on the radio with their families and friends. This connection is largely due to radio stations planting deep roots in local communities. Consumers often view their local stations and corresponding personalities as trusted friends who they can rely on to deliver news, weather, sports, traffic, local events, etc.
Consumers, particularly Millennials, notice the time and energy these radio stations put into their local communities. According to Nielsen, radio’s weekly reach among the millennials across the country is 92 percent. What other medium reaches 92% of Millennials on a weekly basis? Additionally, between February 2015 and February 2016, millennials reported a listening growth of 10.5 percent.
This sizable reach among millennials and adults, coupled by the fact that 66 percent of radio consumption occurs outside of homes, puts radio in the best position to reach consumers close to point of purchase, according to Jacob’s Tech. Radio is the “most mobile” among all of the major media platforms. Ironically, Radio is more mobile than mobile devices. According to Reality Mine’s measurement service, 36 percent of consumers are reached by FM/AM 30 minutes prior to a shopping event, surpassing mobile, TV, internet, social networks, and print.
It all comes down to this – radio maintains its hold as the number one consumer reach medium for Millennials nationwide. Why? Because Radio is mobile friendly for the Ear Bud generation, and it connects with those that want to be part of their community.