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AM/FM Content Connects with Audiences Across Platforms and Builds Communities

At a time when Americans are experiencing near non-stop change, AM/FM content remains a constant that defines listening habits across platforms and demographics.  44% of time spent listening to audio is on AM/FM radio, according to Edison Research’s Share of Ear survey (Q1, 2020). Streaming audio – including AM/FM content – claims an additional 17% of listening time, bolstering AM/FM content’s sizeable presence in U.S. consumers’ everyday lives.

RADIO.COM Surpasses the Competition in Listening Times
and Reach

comScore’s April 2020 Media Metrix release reveals that the time Americans spent listening to RADIO.COM climbed 35% when listening times for April 2019 are compared to April 2020, with reach expanding by 33%. Growth percentages for iHeartRadio are 12% and 14% respectively.

Listening-time and reach increases for AM/FM streaming were achieved at the expense of subscription audio, which experienced declines in both categories. Listening times dropped by 21% for Pandora and 61% for Spotify, and reach retracted by 19% and 2% respectively.

Listeners Prefer Ad-Supported Audio Networks

Americans’ combined need for up-to-the-minute information as well as diversion from the day’s stresses is driving an overwhelming preference for AM/FM radio’s ad-supported streaming over subscription-based streaming. A number of reasons are powering their preference:

  • Authentic, relevant and varied content from sports, to news, to political, that offers local, regional and national points of view
  • Trusted, familiar and relatable hosts who are a valued part of listeners’ communities and daily lives, and provide needed connection and reassurance during times of uncertainty
  • Entertainment personalized to listeners’ tastes and preferences rather than based on pre-populated play lists and standardized formats
  • Subscription-free access to content that strongly appeals to consumers, especially when personal finances and job security are on unsteady ground

RADIO.COM, Entercom’s integrated digital platform, is keeping Americans informed, entertained and hopeful at a time when it matters most. The platform streams premium and curated news and talk shows, as well as music, sports and other entertainment, from the company’s 234+ locally programmed radio stations. RADIO.COM’s double-digit increases in total listening hours for nine consecutive months underlies the strength of Entercom’s AM/FM content and iconic voices.

Cross-Platform Reach Boosts Influence of AM/FM Content

Americans listen to AM/FM radio wherever their days and nights take them, both at home and at work. In the car, 62% of listeners’ time is spent with AM/FM radio and only 7% with streaming audio.[1] Although in-car listening is expected to maintain its hold on the top ranking, the number of at-home listeners has climbed since the advent of COVID-19.

Nielsen studies[2] of listeners in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles indicate that the majority choose AM/FM radio as their primary source of audio content, with more than one-third of those listeners incrementing their audio consumption with at least one streaming device. This emerging consumer trend, which is likely to continue post-COVID-19, offers opportunities for marketers to enhance their brand message using cross-platform engagement and multiple touchpoints.

Music-Only Subscription Services Trail Rich AM/FM Content

Share of Ear delves further into Americans’ audio-listening times with one-to-one comparisons between AM/FM radio, Pandora and Spotify. Among the most eye-opening insights is that listening times for AM/FM radio dominate dramatically when compared to Pandora and Spotify: 73% for AM/FM radio and 27% for Pandora and Spotify combined.

For ad-supported listening times, AM/FM radio’s dominance stands strong. Seventy-four percent of time is spent with AM/FM radio, while 7% is spent with Pandora Free and 4% with Spotify Free. SiriusXM captures 4% of listeners’ time. These findings spotlight the tremendous opportunities ad-supported audio offers marketers – more listening time spent with AM/FM radio translates to broader reach and deeper audience engagement.

The draw of AM/FM content is also evident among Pandora and Spotify listeners’ crossover audio habits. Share of Ear reveals that Pandora listeners spend 26% of their time with AM/FM radio. Even more notable is that Spotify listeners spend more time with AM/FM radio (20%) than with Spotify Free (16%).

The Share of Ear findings support not only AM/FM radio’s measurable share when compared to that of Pandora and Spotify listeners’ audio time, but also the widespread appeal of its diverse and personalized content, host relationships, and economically smart audio options.

Looking Ahead

As the media terrain continues to evolve, listeners will increasingly turn to audio to conduct business, engage with others in everyday interactions, and access an expanding selection of news, sports, music and other content. The value of ad-sponsored audio will continue to resonate strongly as listeners prioritize their time and expenses, while remaining open to hearing from brands.  Marketers can build trust and engagement by following listeners across their preferred platforms and devices.


[1] Edison Research, Share of Ear, Q1 2020.

[2] Custom Nielsen Local Flash Surveys, April 2020.

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