Jacobs Media released the results of its 19th annual Techsurvey on Wednesday, providing insight into the listening habits of radio’s core radio listeners in the US. The survey included more than 30,000 respondents representing P1s from 434 commercial stations, with an average age of 55.5. The key takeaways from the survey include the fact that consumption patterns are returning to normal, with brand usage and audio consumption up. Streaming and podcasts continue to trend up, however, traditional AM/FM listening is flat.
Radio’s Work-From-Home Reality
A permanent effect of the pandemic, one-third of respondents will be working from home permanently, with remote workers skewing younger. Traditional radio’s WFH listeners are more likely to prefer news/talk, sports, and alternative formats. For those back commuting, radio is still popular due to its ease of use in the car, that it’s free, and the talent and shows it offers.
Speaking Of Cars…
One of the year’s biggest findings is that metadata matters. When it comes to the dashboard, the majority of listeners are interested in features that display song and artist information, as well as emergency weather info. In what could be a troubling trend, having Bluetooth in a car is more important than FM to car buyers, with AM trailing even further behind.
Talent Connection Matters
Techsurvey found the strongest emotional benefits of radio include a sense of connection, companionship, and being informed in emergencies. Air talent continue to outrank music as the leading content-based reason for listening to a station, with connection to personalities most important to Gen Z listeners. When it comes to recommending radio to others, non-comm rules: Christian and public radio formats outperformed all others in word-of-mouth scores, while rock, country, and CHR formats were the top commercial formats.
What About Streaming?
Its no surprise that home radios continue to dwindle in favor of phones and smart speakers. In the streaming game, Spotify is making gains at Pandora’s expense as new media choices are the biggest pull from radio’s audience. Fewer people say they are listening to more podcasts than they were a year ago, but one in three still listens to a podcast weekly. Apps also have continued importance, with 40% of those surveyed saying they have their favorite station’s app downloaded.
Strong Reaction To Subscriptions
Finally, with rumors swirling that some broadcasters are considering offering ad-free streams of OTA stations for nominal fees, a warning: subscription fatigue is setting in. With 88% of Techsurvey participants subscribing to video streaming service, and 64% to audio, more than 70% are considering cutting back on their monthly streaming budgets.
When asked, the vast majority of radio’s heaviest listeners were unwilling to pay even $3 per month for ad-free listening.