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Nielsen: Radio Remains Top for Reach

"Audio Today 2023" report shows radio continues to outpace other ad-supported audio platforms

The dominance of radio when it comes to advertising-supported audio platforms is one of the factors Nielsen considered in the Audio Today 2023 report into U.S. audio listening habits. (Source: Audio Today 2023)

The results of Nielsen’s Audio Today 2023: How America Listens report show 91% of U.S. adults 18+ tune to radio monthly. That level of reach varies from a high of 93% for adults 35–49 and a low of 85% among adults 18–34.

The report notes that radio use is strong, with a greater than 25% hourly reach from around 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., but that use rises during the morning drive time and again in late afternoon through the evening drive.

This is not surprising given that 65% radio listening happens outside of the home and 68% of that happens in the car. Also notable: 74% of all AM listening happens in cars.

Out of home listening each week. (Source: Audio Today 2023)

Time spent listening to AM/FM radio via streaming platforms continues to climb from 14% in the first quarter of 2021 to 20% in the first quarter of 2023.

New for the 2023 report is a breakdown of how listeners use ad-supported audio services, including broadcast radio. Among adults 18+,  the monthly reach for radio was 91%, significantly higher than the ad-supported versions of streaming services; Nielsen reported a monthly reach of 32% for YouTube Music, 23% for Spotify, and 15% each for Pandora and Amazon Music.

This aligns with data from Edison Research’s 2023 Q1 Share of Ear report, which found that daily TSL of ad-supported audio sources also overwhelmingly showed a preference for radio. Of adults 18+, 68% of time spent listening to ad-supported audio went to radio, compared to 16% for podcasts, 12% to ad-supported streaming, and 4% to ad-supported satellite radio.

Also of note in the survey is growing time spent listening to podcasts in the typical week. Using data from the Nielsen Scarborough Podcast Buying Power survey, the report noted an increase in TSL of more than five hours a week from 24% to 31% from May 2022 to May 2023. Although there were increases in when this listening occurred throughout the day, the increase was greatest during the morning and evening commute.

In terms of formats, the report found the top five formats in terms of monthly reach are adult contemporary, country, news/talk, pop CHR, and classic hits.  Looking at the median age for each format’s listeners, the report found that the youngest median age, 36, was associated with rhythmic CHR while the oldest median age, 60, was for classical music.

[Read more Radio World stories about listenership data here.]