What stands out in this report right away is that 91% of Americans listen to tradition AM/FM radio each week. Also interesting to note – the number of people listening to online radio is steadily increasing. New data indicates that 53% of Americans have reported listening to online radio over the last month. This number is nearly double the percentage of online radio listenership in 2010.
Within online listeners, almost three-quarters are choosing to listen on their smart phones. In addition to listening through smart phones, 35% of American adults are listening to online radio in their cars, showing significant growth in that area since 2013. From these numbers, it is clear that digital radio listenership is on the rise.
Currently, there is only one satellite radio platform in the U.S., SiriusXM. Since 2013, SiriusXM has experienced a rise in its subscriber numbers. As of 2014, a reported 27.3 million Americans had subscribed to SiriusXM, showing a 7% increase from 2013. The growth in number of SiriusXM subscribers helps explain some of the jump in digital radio listenership.
Last year also saw a dramatic rise in the number of weekly podcast downloads. This rise may be attributed to the breakout of popular shows such as Serial and other National Public Radio (NPR) programs. To meet the demands of this popularity, in the last year NPR has focused on increasing its presence on digital mediums. One of NPR’s successes included launching its NPR One application. With this app, NPR became the first news provider on iTunes radio.
Currently, Country is the most popular radio station format. According to Nielsen, Country stations accounted for 15.2% of all radio listenership as of Spring 2014. A key point that might help explain the format’s popularity is Country’s “All-American” feel. Additionally, country music’s listenership spans across several different age groups. Interestingly, some markets, like Boston, are adding more Country stations to meet the growing popularity of the format. Following Country, News/Talk/Information stations are the second most popular format, with an 11% share of listeners.
What’s clear from Pew’s report is that radio is still one of the most important ways for people to receive information and news. Having good content is what’s paramount. No matter the vehicle through which it’s heard on the radio, good content will resonate with listeners.