Revs May Be Down, But Study Says Audience Is Up
October 20, 2008 at 5:45 AM (PT)
Radio has been right behind newspapers as the old-school medium most adversely affected by digital developments, writes ADAGE.COM. New research, however, shows that radio is actually gaining audience, even in spite of its closest competitor, the iPOD.
A recent online study from PARAGON RESEARCH polling more than 400 14-24-year-olds about their music-consumption habits found that the youth demo has increased its TSL to radio 11% this year, while its time spent listening to iPODS has actually decreased 13%. The study coincides with the RADIO ADVERTISING BUREAU's annual RADAR report, which shows that AM/FM radio listeners increased by 3 million in 2008, bringing the number of weekly radio listeners to 235 million.
RAB Pres./CEO JEFF HALEY said the PARAGON study confirms what the radio industry has heard anecdotally by reflecting the "lack of inertia in the mp3 experience. You don't have the ability to refresh or any kind of automated way to come across great new music. As a result, that isolated programming effect does not allow you the serendipitous experience the way radio does."
However, more listeners are not doing much to boost radio's fortunes. Industry revenue has been largely flat to down in the past five years due to the gradual migration of listeners to mp3 players and online radio -- not to mention advertisers' simultaneous migration to other niche media such as cable TV, web portals and, to a smaller extent, satellite radio.
It's not as if radio can blame the iPOD for the ad declines. JIM BOYLE, Sr. Radio Analyst for C.L. KING & ASSOCIATES, said although the iPOD has had some affect on radio listening, its impact on radio ad revenue has been minimal at best. "It's not as though you have to compete with the iPOD to go to the local auto dealer in OHIO for an ad," he said. "Even if they chew into your listenership, the pie is still a much bigger pie. You may only lose a very small percentage of your cost-per-thousand point."
As the industry's highest-ranked executives have readily admitted in recent years, radio hasn't done a good job of embracing new media. As FRANK FLORES, Chairman of the NEW YORK MARKET RADIO ASSOCIATION and VP/GM of SBS/NEW YORK, put it, "We've let everybody brand us and put us in different places. The Internet branded us as slow and a dinosaur; iPODS and streaming just made us seem like your father's brand of communicating, and we've done nothing to dispel that."