Among the young, radio is in decline
It was long the medium of choice among 12-24s
October 4, 2010
There’s always been a special connection between young people and radio. It was their favorite medium but also the medium that most influenced their coming of age through the music they listened to on their favorite stations.
In this new age of everywhere media, of cell phones and ubiquitous internet access, radio is slipping in its hold on the 12-24 set, and rather noticeably, which comes out in a new study by Edison Research, the market research company. The study revisits one done in year 2000 and documents the shift in media consumption.
The most notable finding is that the time they spend listening to radio per day has fallen nearly in half in a decade, from two hours and 43 minutes a day to less than an hour and a half today.
Indeed, radio has slipped from the No. 1 medium among 12-24s to No. 3, behind TV and the internet, in terms of hours per day.
Back in 2000, time spend was: radio at 2:43, TV at 2:37 and internet at :59. In 2010 it was internet first at 2:53, then TV at 2:47, with radio third at 1:24, according to the study.
The culprit, no surprise, is all the other media options out there that didn’t exist a decade ago or were in their infancy. With yet more media options becoming available, presumably those declines will continue.
Probably most worrisome to advertisers and media buyers, morning listening is well off among this younger demographic.
Asked what type of media they consumed in the morning, 41 percent of those surveyed said radio. That’s down from 74 percent in 2000. Morning radio has gone from the dominant morning choice to being in a virtual tie with the internet and television. Over the decade, television grew from 38 percent to 42 percent, while the internet has grown from 16 percent to 42 percent.
If radio’s morning declines continue among this demographic, that will not bode at all well for the medium. This audience is an important one for advertisers in its own right, but no less important it suggests that younger people moving into that age group will also be lighter radio listeners.
Part of the decline of radio among 12-24s can be laid at the feet of radio.
For one, it doesn’t to do the job it could promoting radio, notes Tom Webster, Edison’s vice president of strategy and marketing. Radio doesn’t market much outside of its own airwaves.
Over the past decade, says Webster, TV in particular has gotten better at marketing its morning programming.
Webster also points to a lack of programming really aimed at 12-24s. In many markets there is some programming for 18 and up, but nothing really centered on the tweens.
Where I live the contemporary hit radio show is absolutely focused on 25-54-year-olds regardless of the music they are playing, says Webster. Unfortunately, you reap what you sow.
Webster also faults radio for not doing a better job of reaching younger listeners through the media they are most comfortable with, such as texting, though some stations are trying.
Cell phone ownership among 12-24 year-olds has gone from 29 percent to 81 percent in the last 10 years, and nearly half of the units are smart phones with multimedia capability. Of those with phones, 92 percent can send and receive text messages but only 8 percent have ever been used to communicate with a radio station.
Social media has also seen explosive growth in the last 10 years. Three out of four respondents say they use Facebook at least occasionally and over half say they are frequent users.
But, much like cell phones, radio hasn’t penetrated this medium either; less than 10 percent of respondents have ever communicated with a radio station using social media.
If you look at the way they like to communicate number one would be text and number two would be social networking, says Webster.
These numbers indicate radio is not communicating with these folks the way they want to be communicated with. That’s on radio’s shoulders to be much more involved with texting and social media.
All is not complete doom and gloom though; radio also remains the top source for music discovery amongst 12-24 year-olds with 72 percent of the sample saying they listen specifically to hear about new songs. Radio is also the leading electronic source for concert information.
In fact, this group’s overall appraisal of radio is more positive. In 2000 over half the respondents said they weren’t hearing the music they like on the radio. Now only 33 percent agree with that statement while 80 percent say they listen specifically to hear their favorite songs.
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