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Radio audiences A window of opportunity

Report by Mark Mulligan, Keith Jopling, Tatiana Cirisano and Annie Langston
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20,000 foot view:  Streaming claimed radio’s younger, music-focused audiences while podcasts are now beginning to do the same for older, spoken-word audiences. However, it is not yet determined that the impact needs to be as disruptive for radio companies. With radio audience declines slowing, and even experiencing a modest rebound, a window of opportunity exists for radio companies to become masters of their own destinies. But the window is small, and the required action will not be easy. 

Key insights 

  • Radio listening is in long-term, slow decline but rebounding from a Covid trough, with monthly penetration going from        in        2016 to        in        2022, but up from a        2020 low
  • Digital formats are gaining ground – since        2020, weekly radio listenership has been stable while podcasts, audiobooks, and music streaming all grew, including a six-point increase for streaming
  • Music radio bucked the trend, growing four points during the period to reach        with the US highest on       
  • Audio as a whole is improving engagement with all audio formats seeing daily listeners rise in both actual terms and as a share of weekly listeners 
  • Podcasts increased daily share of weekly listeners most (up        points) but still had the lowest daily-to-weekly listener share with        in        2022
  • Radio had the second highest daily-to-weekly share        but grew the least (up just one point)
  • Streaming radio-like features and use case are gaining ground –        of music streamers listen to streaming stations and radio, while        stream in the car
  • Radio listeners are getting older –        of monthly listeners are over        compared to an average of just        across podcasts, streaming and audiobooks
  • Digital formats are not that young either, with the now-aging millennial base of 20-34-year-olds accounting for a quarter of digital format audiences, while        are just        of users compared to        of TikTok users
  • National broadcasters in the UK and Canada both saw weekly listener declines for key stations, with commercial stations Heart and Capital gaining 
  • Radio is finding favour again with artists and managers, with many artists citing the (resurgent) importance of radio in audience-building strategies – radio’s song scarcity is a rare asset set against streaming’s infinite catalogue 

Companies and brands mentioned in this report: Amazon Music, Amp, BBC, Capital, CBC, Clubhouse, Facebook, Global Radio, Green Room, Instagram, Kiss, NPR, Pandora, Radio        Radio        SiriusXM, Sounds, Spotify, Spotify Live, TikTok

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