Nielsen N 220

“The audio market is expanding as a result of increased accessibility and emerging technology.” That’s the conclusion Nielsen reaches in its quarterly analysis of media consumption habits across various platforms. The just-released Nielsen Total Audience Report shows 19% of U.S. adults aged 18 and older consume podcasts each week. In addition, about four-in-ten adults consume streaming audio.

Broadcast AM/FM radio remains at the center of what Nielsen says is the expanding audio universe, as it reaches more Americans each week than any other media platform. But it adds, “Smartphones are now used more than ever to stream audio content.” Streaming audio on a smartphone rose three points since the last report was released.

Nielsen says 45% of adults overall consume streaming audio on a weekly basis. But there’s a big difference among the various demographic breakouts. No age group is more streaming focused than 18-34 year olds. Nielsen says 60% of them listened to streaming audio content each week. Adults 35-49 aren’t far behind at 53%. But there’s a sharp drop-off among older demos. Among Adults 50-54, less than half (38%) listened to streamed audio each week and less than a quarter (24%) of Adults 65+ do. The report also says Hispanics (51%) are slightly more likely to listen to streamed audio than Blacks (50%) or Asians (48%).

As podcasters look to grow their reach, one way may be to look at where traditional AM/FM radio has dominated. “One reason radio maintains its broad reach is due to high usage occurring away from the home,” Nielsen says. “Automobiles are the most significant listening location.” The ratings company says two-thirds of all non-home radio listening is done in the car. And that number rises to 77% on weekends. “Nearly one-third of non-home listening also occurs at work, where consumers can multitask while they carry out their jobs,” it adds.

Nielsen also reports its MediaTech Trender Survey finds that two-thirds (67%) of audio users are influenced by recommendations from family and friends when making streaming selections. Meanwhile, 56% of audio streaming users refer back to existing programming they used to watch or listen to on broadcast media as that content is now more accessible. The survey also found that users want access to a broad variety of content (57%) while using technology and an interface that is easy to navigate (56%). Niche content is also desirable, as 43% want access to local programming, 38% are looking for specific networks, and 35% want the ability to stream live sports.

“The one thing many adults in the U.S. have in common is that we spend a good part of our waking days with media,” Nielsen SVP of audience insights Peter Katsingris writes in the report. “Overall total media use among U.S. adults remains unchanged year-over-year at 10-and-a-half hours per day. But there are shifts in where that time being spent is dedicated to, as we see increases in Internet connected devices and app/web smartphone usage that are gradually replacing time spent on other sources. These shifts are not surprising, as nearly seven out of 10 homes now have a device capable of streaming content.”

Nielsen reports Adults 18-34 spend more than one-third of their daily media usage on smartphones. But it is Adults 50-64 who spend more time per day on media than any other age group.