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Detailed Findings Reveal How America Listens

Nielsen report shows radio leading the pack in terms of reach, time spent listening

A new report by Nielsen reveals that radio continues to reach a major swath of Americans, buoyed by its role as the leading ad-supported medium in America today and increased listening levels.

The latest edition of the Audio Today 2022: How America Listens” report by Nielsen looks at how Americans consume audio, including broadcast AM/FM radio, podcasts, streaming and satellite audio. 

The report finds that radio broadcasters continue to be seen as stalwart, steadfast members of the communities in which they operate. “Radio … operators tirelessly serve their communities out of a tradition of responsibility but also because they are beholden to the federal government,” said Brad Kelly, managing editor of Nielsen Audio, in an introduction to the report. “Unlike digital, it’s not the wild west. Broadcasters are bound by rules that govern their license.”

Kelly said that advertisers have begun to wake up to the social responsibility of their media choices too. The latest issue of the “How America Listens” report reveals that AM/FM radio continues to be the leading ad-supported medium in America today, reaching more Americans every month than any other platform, be it linear or digitally. 

Radio reaches 93% of the U.S. population, compared to a combined monthly reach of 60% from streaming music, podcasting and satellite radio. The report also found that radio generates 55% more incremental reach when added to an audio marketing plan. 

Additionally, the report found that most radio listening happens when consumers are out of the home and 70% of heavy radio consumers are now spending an hour or more daily in their vehicles — up 60% since spring 2020. 

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The report also highlighted the continued growth the industry is seeing from podcasting. U.S. podcasting revenues are expected to hit $2 billion next year as Americans have more than two million podcast titles to choose from. The report also detailed the popularity of certain podcast genres, including genres with the largest percentage of change. Podcasts devoted to music increased 109% in popularity between November 2019 and May 2022. Other genres with significant percentage changes include leisure, true crime, comedy as well as TV and film podcasts. 

Data shows that audio consumers are leading the way toward recovery from the pandemic. Audio users are more likely to plan major purchases in the next year and are more willing to shop in stores, attend events, work in an office and get on planes. 

In an analysis of the results, a Cumulus Media | Westwood One blog revealed that, with consumption at all-time highs, the audio landscape has never had more potential for advertisers. “No matter the target demographic, there is an AM/FM radio format that delivers the ideal audience,” wrote Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group. “[The] data shows that no matter what demographic an advertiser may be trying to reach, there is an AM/FM radio format that can be used for that target.”