Trends and Facts on Audio and Podcasts | State of the News Media – Pew Research Center

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CORRECTION (June 16, 2023): Two in-text citations of data from “The Infinite Dial 2023” report and source notes for charts on “Podcast listenership” and “Online audio listenership” have been updated to reflect that data from “The Infinite Dial 2023” report comes solely from Edison Research. One in-text reference to Audacy has been updated to reflect that Entercom changed its name to Audacy in 2021. These updates do not affect any of the analysis’s substantive or overall findings. In addition, the following sentence about revenue for news radio stations has been updated to read, “And revenue for news radio stations dropped in 2020 after years of relative stability, but increased in 2021 and stayed the same in 2022.”
The audio news sector in the United States is split by modes of delivery: traditional terrestrial radio (AM/FM) and digital formats, such as online audio and podcasting. While terrestrial radio reaches a large portion of the U.S. population, online audio and podcasting audiences have grown over the last decade. And revenue for news radio stations dropped in 2020 after years of relative stability, but increased in 2021 and stayed the same in 2022. Explore the patterns and longitudinal data about audio and podcasting below. (Data on public radio beyond podcasting is available in a separate fact sheet.)
The audience for terrestrial radio has remained large and constant over the past few years. Weekly listenership dropped from 89% in 2019 to 83% in 2020, but it has since been relatively stable. In 2022, 82% of Americans ages 12 and older listened to terrestrial radio in a given week, according to Nielsen Media Research data published by the Radio Advertising Bureau.
Note: This and most data on the radio sector apply to all types of listening and do not break out news, except where noted. In 2019, Nielsen listed news/talk among the most-listened-to radio formats; in 2022, 47% of U.S. adults said they got news on the radio often or sometimes.
Source: Nielsen Audio RADAR 156, March 2023, publicly available via Radio Advertising Bureau.
However, the share of Americans who listen to podcasts has substantially increased over the last decade. As of 2023, 42% of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to a podcast in the past month, according to “The Infinite Dial” report by Edison Research. This has remained relatively constant since 2020, when 37% had listened to a podcast in the past month.
A decade ago, in 2013, just 12% of Americans 12 and older said they had listened to a podcast in the past month. In 2023, 31% of those 12 and older said they have listened to a podcast in the last week, up from 26% in 2022 and 7% when this was first measured in 2013. (The data in this chart, as well as in the subsequent chart about podcasts, is for all types of content and does not break out news programs.)
Note: Edison Research’s survey is conducted in January/February of every year. Between 2014 to 2021, Edison Research partnered with Triton Digital to conduct this survey and produce “The Infinite Dial” report. Weekly podcast listening data was first reported in 2013.
Source: Edison Research, “The Infinite Dial 2023.”
The average weekly unique users who download NPR podcasts, which include some of the most popular podcasts in the Apple Podcasts charts, such as Up First and Fresh Air, has declined from 10.6 million in 2020 to 8 million in 2023, according to data provided by NPR.
Note: Starting in 2020, listener measurement reflects IAB 2.1 measurement technical guidelines, which is a methodological change from previous years.
Source: Podcasts weekly users via NPR Podcast Logs, DataStudio.
According to survey data from Edison Research, the share of the public listening to online audio has slightly increased in recent years. As of early 2023, 75% of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to online audio in the past month, while 70% have listened in the past week. After online audio listenership remained flat between 2019 and 2021, this increase marks the highest these figures have been since 2002 when data was first tracked.
Source: Edison Research, “The Infinite Dial 2023.”
After dropping sharply by 24% in 2020, average radio revenue for stations in the all-news format rose by 13% in 2021 before leveling out in 2022, according to Pew Research Center analysis of MEDIA Access Pro & BIA Advisory Services data. Average station revenue for stations in the all-news format stayed relatively stable, from $17.9 million in 2021 to $17.8 million in 2022. (The BIA Advisory Services database contains revenue data during these years for only 15 of the 27 all-news stations, therefore, only those stations are included in the averages.)
Average revenue for a combination of stations in the all-news, news/talk, and news/talk/info formats is substantially lower than when looking at all-news stations alone – in 2022, $2.5 million per station. This likely stems from the fact that this category contains a sizable number of stations with low total revenue. (The BIA Advisory Services database contains revenue data during all of these years for 355 stations in this category.)
Note: Data from previous years is updated annually. The BIA Advisory Services database contains revenue data for every year shown in the chart for 15 of the 27 all-news stations; therefore, only those stations are included in the averages. BIA Advisory Services does not typically report revenue for stations that are not part of a radio market. Data includes full-power AM and FM radio stations in the BIA Advisory Services database in 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Source: Pew Research Center analysis of MEDIA Access Pro & BIA Advisory Services data.
Source: Pew Research Center analysis of MEDIA Access Pro & BIA Advisory Services data.
As of 2022, there were 27 AM or FM stations listed as “all-news” in the BIA Advisory Services database of radio stations. Audacy (previously known as Entercom) is currently the parent company of 12 of these 27 stations.
Source: Pew Research Center analysis of MEDIA Access Pro & BIA Advisory Services data.
This fact sheet was compiled by Research Assistant Christopher St. Aubin.
Read the methodology.
Pew Research Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder. This is the latest analysis in Pew Research Center’s ongoing investigation of the state of news, information and journalism in the digital age, a research program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
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