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Edison Research’s “Share of Ear” is the gold standard for understanding how Americans consume audio. The report quantifies the reach and time spent with all forms of audio. Here are key takeaways from the recently released Q2 2017 Share of Ear study, which is now releasing data semiannually.

1. AM/FM radio remains the centerpiece of audio. Once again AM/FM radio takes the top spot as America’s leading audio provider, accounting for 51% of all audio time spent among persons 18+. AM/FM radio shares are 10 times bigger than ad-supported Pandora and 25 times bigger than ad-supported Spotify.


2. Pandora is down while AM/FM radio is stable. Americans’ time spent with Pandora is declining. In Q2 2017, persons 18+ spent 11% less time with Pandora versus Q2 2016. This decline is validated by Triton Digital, the leading digital audio measurement service. Meanwhile, AM/FM radio has maintained its strong share of audio time spent among Americans, proving to be a stable and consistent ad media platform.


3. Streaming grows at the expense of owned music, not AM/FM radio. There is a common misconception that the rise of streaming comes at the expense of AM/FM radio time spent. “Share of Ear” shows streaming is actually eating away at owned music. Consumers are moving from buying their audio to renting it. This chart below shows the growth of time spent with streaming coming at the expense of owned music. Meanwhile, time spent with AM/FM radio is stable. Advertisers should have no questions about the continued staying power of AM/FM radio.  

4. Pandora reaches few Americans. Only 5% of the United States accounts for 72% of Pandora’s listening. When advertising on Pandora, advertisers are only hitting a small number of potential consumers. If reach is the goal, add AM/FM radio to the media plan. Per Nielsen’s Q4 Comparable Metrics Report, AM/FM radio is America’s #1 mass reach media reaching 93% of Americans each week.

5. AM/FM radio is still the king of the road. AM/FM radio accounts for a whopping 70% of time spent in the car and looking at just ad-supported services, represents 89% of time spent. When Americans are on-the-go in their car, most of that time is spent with radio making it the most opportune time for advertisements to air.

AM/FM radio continues to be the most reliable media outlet for advertisers:

  • AM/FM radio remains the centerpiece of audio
  • Pandora is down while AM/FM radio is stable
  • Streaming grows at the expense of owned music, not AM/FM radio
  • Pandora reaches few Americans
  • AM/FM radio is still the king of the road

Brittany Faison is a Research Analyst at Cumulus | Westwood One.

Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.