Young Demo Spikes Surge in News Radio Listening

Nielsen cites news consumption at an all-time high

If you’re working in management at a news or news-talk radio station, Nielsen has good news for you. According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, news consumption has peaked over the past 18 months. In fact, Americans listened to more than 11.5 billion hours of news across Nielsen’s portable people meter markets last year, up from 10.5 billion in 2015.

The first quarter numbers are in, and they point to an ongoing surge in listenership to news-formatted stations. Presumably, the uptick is building on last year’s perpetual political news cycle. The growth is not evenly divided among demographics, however.

While the numbers for news radio listening among adults 50 and older remain virtually unchanged since 2015, the share among millennials (18–34) has grown fastest in the past two years. First quarter numbers for this demo was 24% higher than in 2015, and 14 percent higher than in 2016. For listeners age 25–54, the numbers are also up, but not quite as dramatic. The first-quarter 2017 share was 19% higher than in 2015, and 12% higher than in 2016.

To put these numbers in perspective, Nielsen combined listening trends from all news/talk (both commercial and noncommercial outlets), all-news and Spanish-language news talk stations across Nielsen’s PPM markets and trended the results of the past two years against the first quarter of 2017. This is the same lineup of stations used in the Nielsen Total Audience Report.

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