Get On The Same Page As Your Listeners


(By Bob McCurdy) The following insights should be of particular interest to advertisers marketing any high-end automobile products or services.

I have met with several advertisers across the country recently who are under the impression that affluent listeners no longer tune to AM/FM but instead listen to satellite radio.

While that might be reflective of their own in-car listening habits, as that’s where the vast majority of satellite listening occurs due to the lack of satellite receiver penetration outside the automobile, several data sources indicate this is far from being the case.

It is easy to fall prey to what psychologists refer to as the “false consensus” effect, which is when someone over-estimates how much others share their behaviors and beliefs. As I have previously written, the danger of this “false consensus” is that it leads to marketing plans and media choices that would influence the designer of the marketing plan but not the consumer. This is dangerous to the long-term health of any business.

I dug into two research sources, USA TouchPoints and Nielsen data to substantiate that affluent consumers remain big fans of AM/FM programming.

Six markets were analyzed with the Nielsen data: Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Tampa.

We started with 25-64-year-old adults with a household income of $75,000+. What we found was, on average, across the six markets, these individuals tuned to AM/FM radio 11 hours weekly or 1.6 hours/daily. That is a lot of listening.

Nielsen A25-64/ $75,000+ Household Income:

Boston: 11 hours/week

Charlotte: 10 hours/week

Detroit: 11 hours/week

Las Vegas: 11 hours/week

Philadelphia: 12 hours/week

Tampa: 11.5 hours/week

Six-Market Average: 11 hours/week or 1.6 hours/day

I also used Nielsen data to analyze AM/FM and satellite weekly usage against the same target as above. The average across the six markets for tuning to AM/FM radio was 94.3% vs 25.7% tuning to satellite, an almost fourfold advantage for AM/FM radio.

To be read, Boston: 95.2% of 25-64-year-old adults with a household income of 75,000+ tuned to AM/FM each week with 19.1% tuning to satellite radio weekly.

Scarborough A25-64 $75K+ Household Income:

Boston: 95.2%/19.1%

Charlotte: 94.6%/30.5%

Detroit: 95.3%/30.2%

Las Vegas: 89.7%/22.8%

Philly: 95.9%/23.4%

Tampa:  95.4%/28.3%

Six Market Average: 94.3%/25.7%

I then took it up a notch, looking at the listening habits of A25-64s with a $100,000+ household income and found similar usage figures.

To be read, Boston: 95.1% of A25-64-year-old adults with a household income of $100,000+ tuned to AM/FM each week with 20.7% tuning to satellite radio weekly. Across the six markets, AM/FM enjoyed more than a threefold usage advantage over satellite.

Scarborough A25-64 $100K+ Household Income:

Boston: 95.1%/20.7%

Charlotte: 98.1%/38.2%

Detroit: 94.3%/35.3%

Las Vegas: 85.8%/24.1%

Philly: 95.6%/26.8%

Tampa 94.5%/34.4%

Six Market Average: 93.9%/29.9%

Next, I accessed USA TouchPoint data again analyzing the audio usage of A25-64-year-old adults with a household income of $100,000+ to shed light on each channel’s share of total audio listening. What we found was not surprising: Their listening habits largely mirrored the general population, with AM/FM enjoying more than a fourfold advantage over satellite radio in terms of total usage

58.0% of all audio usage was to AM/FM, HD, or Streaming Local Radio

17.1% of all audio usage was to all-Streaming Audio

13.3% of all audio usage was to Satellite Radio

5.0% of all audio usage was to CD/Record/Tape Player

4.8% of all audio usage was to iPod/MP3 Players

1.7% of all audio usage was to TV Music Channels

.03% of all audio usage was to In-Store or Mall audi

Last, I broke down satellite radio listening across these six markets by the amount of time spent with AM/FM radio

According to Scarborough, across these six markets, again with the target being A25-64 with a household income of $100,000+, the satellite radio listener is as likely to be among the “heaviest/heavy” listeners to AM/FM radio as the rest of the population. Eight percent more likely to be “moderate” listeners to AM/FM radio and 12% percent less likely to be among the “lightest/light” listeners to AM/FM radio in these six markets

There are three key takeaways from the above

First, is that regardless of income, AM/FM radio continues to play a major role in consumers’ lives, far beyond that of any other audio option, including satellite radio

Second, for those of us involved in media and media selection, what might be common media consumption behavior for us individually, might be uncommon to many of the consumers to whom we are marketing

Third, the satellite radio listener spends considerable time with AM/FM, with 70% of all satellite radio listeners in these six markets classified as moderate, heavy, or among the heaviest listeners to AM/FM radio

As I previously established with streaming audio and AM/FM radio, it is not “either/or” but rather “and.” The same clearly holds true with AM/FM radio and satellite radio.

Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Very helpful, Bob.
    I am reminded of The Joker pondering out loud about Batman: “Where does he get all these wonderful toys!?” 🙂


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