Radio Is Still Twice As Popular As Podcasts, Music Streaming


American adults still spend an overwhelming majority of their daily listening time on radio broadcasts despite the rise in popularity of podcasts and music streaming services, new Nielsen data on listening habits in the first quarter of 2024 shows, though younger audiences are starting to buck that trend by choosing on-demand audio at a higher rate than their elders.

Key Facts

American adults spend more than four hours with audio every day, a report from Nielsen and Edison Research shows, and radio listening accounts for 67% of ad-supported listening, followed by podcasts at 20%, music streaming at 10% and satellite radio at 3% (the study did not include non ad-supported listening, like some satellite radio listening).

The younger demographic is starting to shift more toward on-demand options, with only 45% of listening time dedicated to radio among the 18 to 34 age group, the data shows—but that still outpaces the 37% on podcasts and 18% on streaming audio or satellite radio.

For those over 35 years old, radio is still king: 74% of listening time in that demographic is captured by radio broadcasts compared to 13% for podcasts, 9% for music streaming and 4% on satellite radio.

Adults listen most often to news or talk radio, with the category accounting for almost 11% of all radio use among those over age 18; adult contemporary music is the second most popular type of radio content (8.6%), followed by classic hits and country music (5.9% each) and sports radio (4.5%).

Most audio content is consumed outside of the home during the day, the report showed, with 80% of specifically in-car listening dedicated to radio.

Nielsen’s “The Record” report was compiled using data from Edison Research’s quarterly Share of Ear study, which surveys thousands of people’s listening habits, and Nielsen’s audio measurement technology.

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Key Background

Radio broadcasts have captured American audiences for more than a century, peaking in popularity in the “Golden Age of Radio” from the late 1920s to early 1950s. The introduction of the television is credited with a fall in popularity of the medium, but more than 95% of Americans were still listening to the radio at least once a week as of 1998, according to PBS. Popularity has declined since, with weekly listenership dropping to 89% by 2019 and to 82% by 2022, according to the Pew Research Center. The slight decline in radio listening has correlated with a rise in time dedicated to podcasts—42% of Americans over the age of 12 had listened to a podcast in the last month as of 2023, up from 37% in 2020 and 12% in 2013. The number of people listening to online audio, like music streaming, has also skyrocketed in the last several decades. Only 15% of Americans over 12 had listened to online audio in the last month in 2005, a number that rose to 47% in 2014 and 75% in 2023.

Surprising Fact

“The Joe Rogan Experience” was the top podcast on Spotify in 2023 with an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, according to Edison Research. It scored twice as many listeners as the second-place podcast, “Crime Junkie,” which was followed in popularity by “The Daily” from the New York Times and NPR’s “This American Life.”

Further Reading

The Record: U.S. audio listening trends powered by Nielsen and Edison Research | NielsenForbes‘Video Podcasting’ Growing In Popularity
ForbesOver 100 Million Americans Listen To A Podcast Each Week, Survey ShowsForbesTop Podcasts 2023: Joe Rogan Tops Crime Junkie And The Daily

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