Within Ad Supported Media, Broadcast Radio Reach is Second Only to Live Television, Study Finds

Within Ad Supported Media, Broadcast Radio Reach is Second Only to Live Television, Study Finds

A Nielsen analysis of a media use study conducted by the Council for Research Excellence (CRE) found that 77% of adults are reached by broadcast radio on a daily basis, second only to television at 95%. This study, in which consumers were physically observed consuming media throughout the day, found that Web/Internet (excluding email) reached 64%, newspaper 35%, and magazines 27%.

In a deeper analysis of audio media titled “How U.S. Adults Use Radio and Other Forms of Audio,” Nielsen found that that 90% of consumers listen to some form of audio media per day. The 77% who listen to broadcast radio surpass the 37% who listen to CDs and tapes and the 12% who listen to portable audio devices. Broadcast radio also continues to play a major role to all ages, with almost 80 percent of those aged 18 to 34 listening to broadcast radio in an average day.

“There are a lot of critics out there who want to write off broadcast radio, but this analysis of real-time media consumption shows that it continues to play a very strong role,” said Dr. Michael Link, VP of Methodological Research at The Nielsen Company.

While the recent emergence of portable audio devices like the iPod and other MP3 players was considered a threat to traditional forms of audio, this study’s evidence suggests that the new technology has had a positive effect on radio consumption. In fact, radio was found to have a higher reach (82%) among those who listen to portable audio devices, compared to the average reach for all audio consumers.

“This study proves that radio is still a popular medium for the tech-savvy, MP3-playing 18-34 year old consumer,” said Jeff Haley, President and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB). “This groundbreaking observational study of today’s consumer proves that the primary source of new music is the radio.”

The study was conducted by observing the media usage among participants in five DMAs (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Seattle) in the spring and fall of 2008. Many of the broadcast listening trends were consistent with the findings from Nielsen’s 51-market radio ratings released in September

“The results of this study confirm radio’s importance with all socio-economic groups within the United States, as well as with those that consume other audio platforms that had been perceived to be usurping radio’s audio dominance,” said Bob McCurdy, President of Katz Marketing Solutions.

Another key takeaway from the reports is that broadcast radio is the dominant form of audio media at home, work, and in the car.


Other findings highlighted in the report include:

  • Audio media exposure has the highest reach among those with higher levels of education and income.
  • Approximately 12% of study participants listened to MP3s and iPods for an average of 69 minutes per day, yet eight-in-ten of these individuals also listened to broadcast radio for an average of 97 minutes per day.

Download the full analysis on radio and audio usage.