Nielsen - Futuri

As audiences continue to shift from linear to on-demand consumption, a new study shows a major opportunity for radio in time-shifted audio. Conducted by Nielsen and Futuri Media, the study finds that half of respondents say they will listen to time-shifted audio while a high percentage are willing to share audio content they access on social media channels with their friends.

The study, which Nielsen fielded with a national sample of adults 18+, set out to gauge the interest listeners have in time-shifting favorite radio shows and personalities. It also surveyed how audiences currently perceive time-shifted audio in general. The sample comprises 602 individuals that listened to radio content for at least one hour over the past week.

The conclusion? There is a profound appetite for time-shifted radio content among radio listeners – notably, highly monetizable and younger audiences. But the study suggests these opportunities are currently untapped as awareness of the availability of time-shifted radio content among listeners remains surprisingly low.

According to results shared with Inside Radio, more than half of radio listeners 18+ say they are interested in listening to short audio clips on social media. Broken out, 17% indicate they definitely would and another 37% say they probably would. Of that group, nearly eight in 10 say they are interested in listening to time-shifted clips of radio station content, specifically.

On Demand’s Sweet Spot

The data shows that younger audiences and heavy radio users, leaning male, are the sweet spot for time-shifted radio content. More than four in 10 (44%) of those interested in accessing radio content on-demand are 18-34, while 35% are 35-54 and 21% are 55+. Looking at radio usage levels, 43% are heavy AM/FM listeners, 36% medium and 21% light listeners.

Crunched another way, 41% of those interested in time-shifted radio content listened to 7+ hours of radio in the past week, compared to 22% who are neutral or not interested. Conversely, 30% of those interested spent only 1-3 hours tuned into radio in the past week, compared to 56% of the neutral/not-interested respondents.

“This presents a unique opportunity for news/talk and sports stations who need to expand appeal with younger demos, but it also signals an opportunity for young music formats to drive further engagement with this audience,” the study suggests.

In another significant finding, those most interested in time-shifted radio content are radio loyalists already actively engaged with the medium. According to the Nielsen study, they are 3.3 times more likely to “often talk about radio with others,” 2.7 times more likely to participate in radio station events or contests, 2.2 times more likely to access radio station content online and 78% more likely to name a particular personality they like. In other words, P1s engage with time-shifted radio content even when not listening.

Education Needed

The study, which Futuri co-founder and CEO Daniel Anstandig teased on a recent episode of the Inside Radio Podcast, makes the case that radio has yet to recognize its potential in the evolving and expanding time-shifted space. It also makes clear that taking advantage of this sizable opportunity requires a significant education effort. Awareness of time-shifted radio content is limited to just three in 10 radio listeners (32%). And only 16% report having ever tuned into such content. And yet, half of listeners aware that radio stations are posting time-shifted content say they have listened to that station in the past 30 days—indicating strong conversion from awareness to tune-in.

And drilling down into the 16% that have listened to on-demand radio content, a majority (57%) have done so on a radio station's website, compared to 35% via a radio station’s mobile app. In fact, Facebook (53%) and YouTube (48%) scored higher as platforms for listening to time-shifted radio content than did a station’s mobile app.

This preference for the web over apps also extends to those that say they are interested in accessing time-shifted content from a favorite radio station. The majority (70%) of this segment would visit the station’s website to listen to time-shifted content, double those who would download the station’s app to listen to clips (35%). Demonstrating the potential of compelling radio clips that might spread virally, almost half of those interested (46%) would share that content on social media channels.

A companion Nielsen/Futuri white paper titled “The Profound Need for Time-Shifted Audio for the Radio Business,” addresses how radio can continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive audio environment that is shadowed by such giants as YouTube and Spotify. “Like any other channel, radio needs to evolve its distribution strategies to remain competitive, stimulate audience growth and create additional opportunities for advertisers, or it risks major audience and revenue erosion,” the companies conclude in the paper. “And it needs to do so in a manner that maximizes ROI on all content it creates.”

Mirrors Video Shift

The study and white paper make the case that after revolutionizing the TV industry, time-shifting is now accomplishing the same with audio. “We are seeing the same shifts in audio consumption observed around video consumption in the early days of DVRs,” the paper states.

Of course, Futuri has a dog in the hunt when it comes to encouraging broadcasters to pivot toward making their content available on-demand. Its podcasting, on-demand and digital audio management system POST allows stations to convert broadcast content into on-demand audio and instantly publish it across multiple platforms. In a bit of research as marketing, in a second part of the study, Nielsen compared minute-by-minute PPM data against server logs from Futuri’s POST to determine how much PPM credit for time-shifted listening stations using POST received, compared to stations not using POST. Nielsen gives PPM credit for time-shifted audio listened to within 24 hours of its original broadcast. The Nielsen analysis found that AM/FM outlets that produce time-shifted radio content using POST, in fact, get three times more time-shifted listening on average within 24 hours of the original broadcast than stations not using POST. This figure escalates up to 8.4 times higher for time-shifted minutes with listeners 18-49 and 5.4 times for the 25-54 demo.

The survey was fielded from Jan. 7-18 by Nielsen to a representative national sample of adults 18+ who listened to at least one hour of radio in the previous week. Survey invitations were sent by email to panel members and there were 602 completed surveys.