The State Of Black Radio Today
August 14, 2012
Arriving this month, Arbitron's annual "Black Radio Today 2012" study will take an in-depth look at the state of radio listening among Black consumers in the U.S. If you've been following industry trends over the past year, you'll know that radio's reach remains strong on a national basis ... and the same story holds true for Black tadio. Each week approximately 93% of all Black consumers in the country tune to radio.
The following is a sneak preview of some of the most notable findings from Arbitron's "Black Radio Today 2012" study.
Overall Listening Is Strong
To repeat our headline, approximately 93% of the Black population in the U.S. (aged 12+) tunes to radio each week for an average of 14 hours during the week. That's more than any other group nationwide, as measured by Arbitron, in terms of time spent with the medium.
In raw numbers that equates to over seven million Black persons aged 18-34 and more than 12 million Black Adults aged 25-54 each week.
Dig in deeper and you find that the bulk of that listening applies to one of three formats distinctly tailored to the Black audience -- Urban AC, Urban Contemporary and Rhythmic Top 40.
Collectively these three formats account for nearly 60% of all radio listening by Black consumers each week and reach three out of every four Black persons 12+ in the U.S.!
Furthermore, there is a consistent trend of stations in these top-three formats occupying spots at or near the top of the ranker. Across 42 Arbitron PPM markets, in Q2 2012 stations in these three formats ranked in the top-5 among total listeners 18-34 in 38 different markets and in 27 markets with all adults 25-54. This includes 18 stations ranked #1 in the Adults 18-34 demographic and 12 #1 stations at the top of the Adults 25-54 ranker.
We asked Tony Gray, President of Gray Communications, a consulting firm that works with Urban-formatted stations, why Black listeners spend more time with radio than any other group in the nation as measured by Arbitron. He intimated that the success comes from bringing the audience a complete content package: "Aside from delivering great music to its audience, Urban radio is also an important part of the community it serves. Urban stations not only entertain and inform but act as a voice of the people and the (rating) results are tangible."
Urban AC Leads The League
Amongst the three most-popular formats for Black listeners, Urban AC has grown significantly over the last 10 years to become the leading radio format for Black radio.
The data in our new study, which is from the Fall of 2011, shows that Urban AC commands nearly a third (30.8%) of all total listening amongst Black consumers. While that number is actually off slightly from last year's 31.2%, it is still nearly double the next largest format; Urban Contemporary, which accounts for just less than 18% of listening amongst this audience.
Urban AC has grown more or less steadily since the 2004 Black Radio Today report (which used data from Fall of 2003), when it drew about 20% of all Black consumers. That's an increase of more than 10 points -- a 50% jump -- in only seven years.
It's also noteworthy that Urban AC isn't the only format seeing increases in listening from Black consumers. Top 40, which may be the hottest format in the country today, has seen a nice increase over the years, climbing from 2.8 shares of Black listening in 2004 to 4.6% in the latest report. And while All-Sports radio wasn't tracked for overall Black listenership until 2008, it has grown from an initial two shares of listening to 3.3% in the new report ... a 65% increase.
The Value of the Audience
The complete "Black Radio Today 2012" study dives into much more detail on not just radio listening, but also the consumer power of Black consumers who use the medium.
It includes insights from Scarborough Research's USA Plus National database, which profiles shopping, buying and lifestyle habits for the Black Radio audience. Automotive, furniture and home improvement are just three of the categories where the black consumer showcases their value. Collectively, this audience spent $53 billion on furniture and $382 billion on home improvements in 2011. And the same audience is projected to spend $426 billion in new car spending in the coming year.
Black consumers will also be at the polls in November: 81% of those who use radio are registered to vote* and 68% say they always vote in Presidential elections.
Since today's article only captures a few of the headlines from Arbitron's "Black Radio Today 2012" study, I encourage you to visit our website to download the full report once it's available. You can also watch a short video summary of the findings on the Programming Services Team's weekly column, "Not Your Average Quarter-Hour."
*Scarborough's voting activity data is self-reported.
Data for this article comes from the Arbitron "Black Radio Today 2012" Study, which encorporates the Fall 2011 National Regional Database, March 2012 RADAR and Scarborough USA+ Release 2 2011.