Neilsen: Young Adults Do Listen to Radio is the headline of a recent Advertising Age article. Nielsen found high levels of listenership including among young listeners. Readers of this blog won't find this surprising. There is a large body of research that shows that despite streaming, iPods, and the like listeners of all ages continue to use radio in large numbers.
As reported by Ad Age:
Results from the leading media-measurement company's first U.S. pilot study of radio listening, in Lexington, Ky., indicate a potential reversal of a trend that has been working against radio for the past decade: a supposed decline in radio listening among adults 18 to 34.
People in homes that use cellphones as their sole source of phone communication made up more than 20% of Nielsen's sample and skewed toward 18- to 34-year-olds, significantly younger than landline-only homes.
Nielsen found that cellphone-only homes listened to radio an average 23 hours per week, while the total sample spent just more than 19 hours listening to radio. Those younger households also tuned in to an average of 3.5 stations vs. less than three for landline homes.
In total, Nielsen found that radio reached 93% of people in the market over the age of 12, 90% of people who do not read newspapers, 96% of light or non-broadcast TV viewers and 96% of those who go to the movies.
New media pundits have been pointing to declining listenership as reported by Arbitron as proof that radio is in a deep irreversible decline. We argued here, however, that methodological changes may be behind the apparent declines.
One problem we noted was Arbitron's apparent inability to reach a rapidly growing segment of Americans, cellphone-only households.
Responding to pressure from broadcasters, Arbitron laid out a plan of gradually adding cellphone-only households over several years. Nielsen's announcement that they would include cellphone-only households forced Arbitron to accelerate their transition, but they still under-sample cellphone households.
Nielsen is also using a address-based recruiting system compared to Arbitron's telephone number based system. Nielsen points out that with their approach they are able to identify 98% of the households in a market, versus Arbitron's 66%.
Recall that Arbitron uses address based recruitment in Houston, but refuses to do so in other markets.
Nielsen's finding that 20% of listeners live in cellphone-only households and that these people spend 20% more time with radio is significant.
If this holds in other Nielsen markets, it would essentially prove our point that the apparent decline is a product of Arbitron's increasingly antiquated recruitment, and has nothing to do with a real decline in listenership.
Nielsen has shown that despite YouTube, Hulu, and all the other on-line sources of video entertainment, televison viewing is increasing, not decreasing. Why would we think it would be different with radio?