CRE Study: Radio Shines Bright Compared to Other Media

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Nov 4, 2009 - The Council for Research Excellence, a group formed to advance the knowledge and practice of methodological research on audience measurement, in conjunction with Nielsen Media Research, conducted the Video Consumer Mapping (VCM) Study to examine audio media usage among participants in five DMAs: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and Seattle. Using a direct observation method, the final sample included 752 observed days (half in Spring 2008, half in Fall 2008), with 750,000 minutes of observation, at 10 second resolution throughout those days.

The key finding from the study shows 90 percent of adults are exposed to some form of audio media on a daily basis, with broadcast radio having by far the largest share of listening time.

Exposure to audio listening falls into four tiers in terms of level of usage among listeners:

  • broadcast and satellite radio (79.1 percent daily reach; 122 minutes daily use among users)
  • CDs and tapes (37.1 percent daily reach; 72 minutes)
  • portable audio [Ipods/MP3 players] (11.6 percent daily reach; 69minutes), digital audio stored on a computer such as music files downloaded or transferred to and played on a computer (10.4 percent daily reach; 65 minutes average use), and digital audio streamed on a computer (9.3 percent daily reach; 67 minutes)
  • audio on mobile phones (<2 percent daily reach; 9 minutes).

    Of note for radio is that media players averaged only 8 minutes of listening per day among the entire observed sample, with just under 90 percent of the sample not listening at all. Even among those who use other forms of audio media, broadcast radio still has a broad reach.

    For instance, among those who also listened to portable audio devices, broadcast radio had a daily reach of 81.6 percent reach and 97 minutes of average listening time among those who listen to radio. Broadcast radio is also the dominant form of audio media at home, work, and in the car. [Editors note -- sound familiar?]

    Other findings worth noting:

  • Broadcast radio reaches those aged 18-34 at rates equivalent to the general adult population, with 79.2 percent of younger adults listening to broadcast radio for an average of 104 minutes a day among listeners.
  • Among key “advertising-based” media platforms, live television had the highest reach and daily usage among users (95.3 percent, 331 minutes), followed by broadcast radio (77.3 percent reach, 109 minutes), Web/Internet [excluding use of e-mail] (63.7 percent, 77 minutes), newspapers (34.6 percent, 41 minutes), and magazines (26.5 percent, 22 minutes).
  • On average, individuals spend almost identical amounts of time during weekdays (454 minutes) as they do on weekends (458 minutes) using one of the five key media sources.

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