Futuri - Smith Geiger

Working with researcher SmithGeiger, tech provider Futuri has published an in-depth white paper on trends and opportunities for radio, television and digital publishing. Based on a new poll of 2,000 Americans, “The Future of Audience and Revenue” also surveyed 200 media executives and conducted focus groups with 100 media consumers.

Shining a light on how the pandemic upended the media business, more than three fourths of the executives surveyed (77%) said their company lost advertising revenue since the onset of COVID-19; 73% said they have employees working from home; 44% experienced layoffs or reduced headcount; and 35% said their responsibilities have changed.

While the resulting advertising downturn caused many media companies to change their business structure and capital allocation, audience habits were also impacted with Americans consuming more media than pre-pandemic. Nearly 6 in 10 survey respondents (57%) said they have been watching more streamed content during the past few months, 54% are using technology more to connect with others, 51% are watching more television, 48% are using more social media, and 30% are listening more to local AM/FM radio.

Survey participants ranked local radio highest for clarity and facts (45%) among a selection of audio and print (including print digital) brands. Local newspaper brands ranked No. 2 at 44%. And broadcast radio remains the primary source for pandemic-related news for the majority (65%) of Americans in households with incomes of $100,000 or greater.

The study also found that people are using media increasingly as a means of solace or escapism from the uncertainty of today’s world.

The white paper suggests that streaming has altered what used to be a limited broadcast medium into a form of content that can be consumed across all digital devices. Yet it also offers a reminder that talent can still be leveraged as a point of differentiation from the growing menu of audio alternatives, as long as authenticity, targeted content and topics, and an omnichannel approach are part of the package.

Media Definitions Blur

Among the conclusions Futuri draws from the study is that the perception of media is changing as conventional definitions blur. In the consumer’s mind, TV now means all forms of video, from standard live television to streamed events, video posts on social media and YouTube. Radio refers to any form of transmitted audio over any channel.

The study found trust declining in large institutions such as major TV networks, none of which garnered the trust of more than half of the respondents.

The white paper portrays social media as “the greatest opportunity for content, audience, and revenue growth,” suggesting that new platforms represent a “huge opportunity” to reach new markets but require changes in company culture, strategy, systems, technology, and personnel to take advantage of these opportunities.

“The results clearly indicate that fundamental innovation is required to keep pace with the evolution of how Americans consume media in the modern era,” the report says.

Conducted in late spring through mid-summer 2021, SmithGeiger conducted 2,000 nationwide interviews with media users ages 16-74, and nearly 200 interviews with TV, radio, and digital publishing executives throughout the U.S. Futuri says the study polled a statistically significant samples across age groups, employment, income, and education, as well as an accurate cross-section of the media industry based on age, gender, properties, and experience levels. The study also included focus groups with 100 U.S. media consumers.

Futuri provides AI-driven audience engagement and sales technology to radio stations. SmithGeiger offers research and consulting services to companies in a wide array of industries.