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It’s time to check in on a data point we presented three years ago as part of our now-annual Top 10 Findings countdown. Finding #9 from our 2019 list was “AM/FM Listening is almost exclusively over-the-air…still.” At the end of 2019, 92% of AM/FM listening by those in the U.S. age 13+ was done over the air, versus eight percent to the AM/FM streams.
Our semi-impatient editorial comment “still” in the headline of our finding showed that with the available ways to hear AM/FM radio streams through mobile and smart speakers, we expected more of a shift to streams.
Three years later, is this still the case? Today we go to our most recent Share of Ear data to find out.
The graphic below shows annual data from the inception of Share of Ear in 2014. The comparison only is concerning listening to AM/FM radio content – comparing listening on a ‘radio set’ to that done on any streaming device – phone, smart speaker, etc. In 2014, five percent of the total AM/FM listening among those in the U.S. 13+ was to the station streams, with 95% being over the air.
There was almost no change in share of time with streaming compared with over-the-air listening from 2015 to 2019. In that four-year span, streaming increased by one percentage point. But in one year between 2019 and 2020, the percent of AM/FM listening time spent with station streams increased from 8% to 11%, and is now at 12%.
It’s probable that time at home and away from our cars due to quarantine restrictions caused a bump in the percent of total AM/FM audio time spent with streams. It’s also worth noting that as overall time with over-the-air AM/FM decreases, the time with station streams makes up a bigger portion of the total.
Listeners age 25-54 are the most likely to consume AM/FM radio via a station stream. As shown in the graph, 12% of the AM/FM listening by those age 13+ is to the radio station streams. If we take a quick look at some age breaks: 13% of AM/FM listening by those age 13-24 is done to the streams, 17% of AM/FM listening by those age 25-54 is done to the streams, and of 7% of AM/FM listening by those age 55+ is done to the streams.
We are finally firmly in double digits with the percent of AM/FM consumption done to radio station streams on an overall basis, but probably still lower than one would expect given digital audio devices. We will continue watching Share of Ear trends to see how AM/FM listening tracks with over-the-air versus streams.