In 1979, the Buggles claimed that video had killed the radio star. In many ways they were right. However nearly 40 years later radio is still alive and kicking in large part to its cost, accessibility and ease of use. While internet radio has taken a larger footing in the market place over the last 5-10 years, and podcasting popularity continuing to climb, the question has re-emerged about the viability of radio and the popularity of it in the marketplace.
You could argue that live sports has a big impact on the success and future of radio. Many other industries such as music and talk are easily available on different platforms. Programs like Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora all offer easy streaming music at a moments notice, while the vast majority of talk content is consumed on demand via podcast. However live sport hasn’t found a suitable alternative yet. While many live sport audio broadcasts are available online, many are still born on the airwaves.
So where does AM/FM radio sit in the landscape moving forward? The website Radio Info recently published a great article on the AM/FM market in the US. The stats show where radio sits in the US marketplace, and what its main competitors are. While not geared towards sports, the article does show a number of trends that will no doubt impact the sportscasting industry moving forward.
America’s century-old mass medium is still alive, kicking, and serving throngs of listeners every day. Despite what some media pundits say about broadcast media, radio isn’t dead, it isn’t on life support, and isn’t even in the emergency room. But radio might benefit from a sober self-assessment of its role in a digitally disrupted media landscape.
Radio has prospered for so many decades because it’s free, easy to use, and there are tons of devices around. Until recently, it was the only way to enjoy music without having to invest in a record collection, or to hear news, sports and traffic information while on the go.
But AM/FM faces serious competition from personalized, digital alternatives. Waze and Google Maps, for example, offer real-time traffic updates on individual routes; listeners can choose the play-by-play team of their choice, even if it’s out-of-market; and Pandora leads the way in serving music that’s personalized for each listener.
As much as the radio industry loves to promote its wide reach, another critical metric, time spent listening, has been riding a steady decline. Daily time spent listening to AM/FM has fallen by 34% between 2007 and 2017.3, 20 Clearly, listeners are not using AM/FM for as long or as often as they did before. Time spent listening to AM/FM will continue to fall as consumers take advantage of unlimited mobile data plans, acquire more digital media devices in homes and cars, and as radio’s most loyal demographic, Americans aged 50+, embrace the digital revolution. Persons aged 50-64 who have mobile devices are, for the first time in the past year, spending more time with mobile apps than they are listening to AM/FM radio.
Click here for the full article.