The just-released results of Edison Research's “Share of Ear” for Q3 2021 shows AM/FM radio's slice of audio time among persons 18+ at 40%, as reported in Westwood One's latest “Everyone's Listening” blog. The bigger story for radio is its 75% share of ad-supported audio among 18+, far-and-away the leader over podcasts at 11%, ad-supported Pandora at 6%, and ad-supported Spotify and SiriusXM at 4% each. AM/FM also continues to dominate in-car listening with an 88% share of ad-supported audio time, while on smart speakers it leads with a 39% share, according to Edison's study.
Another key finding is the significant growth for streaming as a percentage of total AM/FM listening among adults 25-54. Streaming's share, which stood at 11% in Edison's Q3 2019 and Q3 2020 studies – so the same before and after the pandemic hit – is up to 15% for Q3 2021. Compared to an 8% cut of radio listening as reported in 2016 and 2017, streaming's share has nearly doubled.
Also nearly doubling since 2017 is AM/FM radio streaming's share of ad-supported audio, gaining five share points among 25-54s, with over-the-air and streaming combining for a commanding 71% lead in Edison's study. At 11%, AM/FM streaming now matches ad-supported Pandora and Spotify combined, while ad-supported Pandora, Spotify, and SiriusXM taken together account for the same 15% as in 2017.
In its comparison between AM/FM and both Spotify and Pandora, Westwood One's blog notes the significant gap between where advertisers and agencies estimate the audio time share for each, compared to Edison's findings. According to an August 2021 Advertiser Perceptions survey of 300 media decision makers, estimated share for Spotify was more than 12 times larger than its actual 2% audience share, while that for Pandora was nearly seven times its 3% share. As for AM/FM radio, agencies and brands' estimate was 28% – smaller than their combined estimated share for Spotify and Pandora – vs. its actual 40%.
“How can media agencies and their brand clients be so far off in understanding how Americans actually listen to audio?” Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard asks, noting the major disconnect based on Advertiser Perceptions' findings, suggesting that “marketers and agencies need to take the 'me out of media'.”
Also notable are “Share Of Ear's” findings that more than two-thirds (68%) of Spotify's audience, and nearly three-fourths of Spotify's listening among 25-54s, comes from its ad-free subscription service. Westwood One's blog notes that since 2016, the audience share for Spotify’s ad-free service is up more than 300%, while its ad-supported free service grew only by three-tenths of a share point (1.8 to a 2.1). And while 60% of the time spent with Spotify five years ago was to its ad-supported service, that share now stands at 28%. From Q3 2016 to Q3 2021, ad-supported share for both Spotify and Pandora have fallen, off 9% for the former and 47% for the latter. Additionally, Edison's data shows that while most AM/FM listening (62%) occurs away from home, the opposite is the case for ad-supported Spotify and Pandora, with 71% of listening taking place in the home.