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AM/FM Still King, But Challengers Are Growing

Pew report offers details on changes in market

Digital media has not killed radio, according to Pew Research’s annual “State of the News Media Report,” though it has changed how people listen to it. Data collected from Edison Research indicates that more than half of Americans 12 and older (53%) have listened to online radio in the past month, a 12% increase since 2013 and just shy of double the percentage who had five years ago. Of those who are listening to online radio, 35% have listened on a mobile device.

Of those using a mobile device for online radio, 73% are listening through their smartphones, making that not only the mobile device of choice, but the primary avenue for all online radio listeners. Smartphones have jumped ahead of traditional desktop/laptop computers, with that method of listening to online radio falling from 67% to 61% over the year.

Sirius XM radio, the only satellite radio platform offered in the U.S., has also seen an uptick in its number of subscribers. Since 2013 there has been a 7% boost in Sirius XM subscribers, bringing the total to 27.3 million. Sirius also saw an increase in total revenue, earning $4.2 billion in 2014.

AM and FM continue to be the leader of the pack, however. According to Nielsen Media Research data, 91% of Americans 12 and older had listened to either AM or FM radio in the week prior to being surveyed. That number has remained relatively static since 2009. As far as revenue, a slight decline in spot advertising and network revenue were largely offset by gains in digital and off-air advertising, ultimately resulting in a 1% dip in revenue from $17.65 billion to $17.51 billion.

Some other key findings from Pew’s report include that news/talk/information is the second most popular broadcast format behind country/New Country. The number of news/talk/information stations has also held essentially steady, though the number of all-news stations has dropped from 37 to 31. Pew Research Center also measured the number of Spotify and Pandora users; Spotify had 60 million and Pandora had 81.5 million as of 2014.

Growth of Mobile Looms Large in Report