Nielsen: AM/FM Ratings Overtake TV For First Time


In 2019, Deloitte’s Director of Research, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Duncan Stewart made a bold prediction. He said AM/FM audiences 18-34 would be larger than TV audiences for the same age demographic by 2025. It turns out Stewart was right, even if he did undersell by three years.

As highlighted in this week’s Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group blog, Nielsen reports that radio’s total audience has overtaken television’s for the first time in media history. The Q3 2022 Total Audience Report shows radio’s average audience persons 18-49 is up three percent on TV.

With cord cutting and streaming on the rise, Nielsen data shows television reach among persons 18-49 has dropped -28% and time spent viewing eroded -56%, an hour and a half, since 2018. This comes on the heels of Edison Research’s 2023 Infinite Dial report, showing 73% of adults 18+ still listen to AM/FM.

With radio’s celebration, a warning: if streaming can undercut an unprepared traditional TV industry, how does AM/FM ensure its audience?


  1. TV is a commitment media and radio is a companion media. If the programming is not good, then tv broadcasters won’t get the viewer’s commitment- especially with young active living 18-49s. Radio is like a good friend; fun and easy to hang with, and doesn’t demand such a commitment that listeners have to stop down their life to consume the programming.

  2. Both industries continue to decline. Now radio gets to celebrate that it is declining just a bit slower than TV. Pop the Champagne! LOL!

  3. Stewart’s prediction is dead on; he did NOT “undersell by three years” since he said, “AM/FM audiences 18-34 would be larger than TV…BY 2025.” That’s said, were right to watch the AM/FM habits of the young demo as well as the older folks, who are hot consumers and also likely to choose change.

  4. Radio has the ability to deliver its content for free and can localize itself any time it wants to. That’s its distinct advantage over streaming. With streaming you are tethered to some sort of account that costs money every month.

    • But…more and more, radio ignores its ability to deliver local content by running syndication. TV streaming is cheap and provides an abundance of entertainment choices at our fingertips. I know radio markets that have been unable to address local catastrophes and emergencies due to their syndicated programming, which causes the audience to find alternatives i.e. local TV or out-of-town radio.

      • Same thing as owning a car or a house. It costs money to get what you truly want. Otherwise, you get the content that old, tired radio hacks think you want. This is why radio advertising is being flushed down the toilet.

  5. Yes, streaming has a lot to do with the erosion of television viewing, but after having worked in TV for 40 years, it’s also the lack of great programming. Even local TV news has become stale and boring. The reason why radio holds up is that great stations still know how to program the best content with the right personalities. We don’t need to keep chasing radical change, we just need to stay in our lanes and do what we do best!

    • That’s a shining example of radio done well. Sadly, I’ve seen markets losing ground as they cut corners by dropping staff which ultimately leads to lack of community connection/ratings. I see this exclusively with companies that have acquired more stations than they can really handle, programming-wise and financially.

    • Lose audience and money? Great idea! Radio is for the 55+ crowd, who do not have disposable income. Nobody under 40 even knows what their local stations are….

      • Obviously, not someone in the radio industry, in TV, or just a bad market.
        Radio is still around, and clearly would not exist if business were not advertising, and seeing an ROI. Local is key, and makes a huge difference. Radio is also great at giving back to the community. Life is good.


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