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TUNING IN

A blog dedicated to the world of broadcast and public relations

Monday, April 7, 2014

The State of Audio Today

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According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, “Key Indicators in Media and News,” online listening is going through a growth spurt.  Edison Media research reports that 33% of Americans reported listening to online radio “in the last week” in 2013, up from 29% in 2013. Additionally, online radio listening in cars (long a stronghold of AM/FM radio) rose to 21%, from 17% in 2012.

Traditional radio still continues to reach the vast majority of Americans 12 and older, 91% in 2013 (roughly unchanged from 2012.)

Podcasting has largely leveled off. The number of Americans who have “ever” listened to an audio podcast was down slightly from 29% in 2012 to 27% in 2013.

Satellite radio saw a small bump in subscribers in 2013. By the end of 2013, Sirius/XM had 25.6 million subscribers in the U.S., up from 23.9 million at year end 2012.

Jacobs Media just unveiled a wealth of information from their TECH SURVEY 10 at the Worldwide Radio Seminar 2014.  The annual survey the largest radio survey of all major formats with 37,063 respondents and 199 stations in North America participating.

Surprisingly, a substantial majority of respondents did not agree with the idea that they might be “overwhelmed” with entertainment options; Millennials are more likely to say they’re not overwhelmed with choice.  Interestingly, Millennials are very engaged with digital content but are not willing to pay for content (satellite radio, for example); younger users even more so.

Three-quarters of respondents said it was important to buy or own a car, and the lion’s share of radio listening is in the car, the survey said, with Alternative and Top 40 having the highest percentages of listening in the cars and younger demos doing more in-car listening.  Connected cars’ top format is Sports, but the survey showed 89% wanting AM/FM radio in their cars, ahead of all other options, including iPod connector (66%), CD player (61%) Bluetooth (51%), and down to connected car (25%), HD Radio (23%, the highest it’s been in the survey), a DVD player (17%), and a hard drive for media (16%).

Another interesting note, the survey said that the phone has passed the AM/FM radio as users’ morning alarm device, paced by younger generations.  And 17% said they use headphones “half the time or more” to listen, and it’s far more pronounced for younger generations.

On the effect of social media on listening, 30% said social media interaction does make them more likely to listen to a station (with Top 40, Country, and Hot AC leading the way), while 39% said it would not and 31% remaining neutral, but younger generations are more likely to listen to stations linking with them on social media.  Social media usage showed FACEBOOK in the lead across the board, but TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and SNAPCHAT making major inroads for younger demographics.

Radio apps are on 71% of smartphones, with PANDORA on 63%, iHEARTRADIO on 39% (possibly stunted because Clear Channel stations did not participate in the study), iTUNES RADIO on 31%, and individual station apps at 30%.  Also interesting was that 72% said they would be willing to register for streaming.  PANDORA’s biggest drawback in 2014 is that its “commercials are annoying,” with “can’t skip enough songs” second; both overtook 2012’s top complaint, “miss hearing people,” and younger listeners are the most annoyed with spots.

Radio still remains the top choice for new music discovery, both in general and as a primary source.  YOUTUBE, however, is making a dent for younger listeners in that regard.

Two important takeaways from the data in of these surveys is pretty clear – radio, in whatever form, continues to be an important and vibrant platform where high quality content can be found and programming providers need a to have a solid digital strategy to continue to grow.

Stay tuned…

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