April 29, 2015

State of the News Media 2015

Audio: Fact Sheet

Last updated April 2015

More than half of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to online radio in the past month, according to 2015 survey data from Edison Research – a clear indication that online listening continues to move rapidly into the consumer mainstream. And more of that listening is now being done through mobile devices than through desktops. Traditional AM/FM radio, meanwhile, continues to reach the overwhelming majority of the American public – 91% of Americans ages 12 and older had listened in the week before they were surveyed in 2014, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen Media Research data, essentially unchanged from 2013. And Sirius XM – the only satellite radio platform in the U.S. – reported a boost in subscriber numbers of almost 7% from 2013.

On the financial side, AM/FM’s revenue from “spot” advertising (ads aired during radio broadcasts, its main revenue source) declined slightly in 2014 while revenue from digital and off-air advertising both posted strong gains. Sirius XM saw an increase in revenue of 10%, up from $3.8 billion in 2013 to $4.2 billion in 2014.

According to Nielsen, the number of all-news radio stations declined slightly in 2014, to 31. News/talk/information remains one of the most popular broadcast formats for American radio listeners, second only to the category of country and new country – but the number of stations has fluctuated over the past few years.

Data on podcasts – which also had a breakthrough year of sorts largely due to the popularity of the show Serial – and on NPR are analyzed in separate fact sheets.

Online Radio Listenership

Monthly Online Radio Listeners Have Doubled Since 2010

Year % of Americans ages 12 or older who have listened to online radio in the past month
2007 20
2008 21
2009 27
2010 27
2010 27
2011 34
2012 39
2013 45
2014 47
2015 53

Source: Edison Research
Note: Edison surveys are conducted in January and February of each year.

Pew Research Center

In 2015, the percentage of Americans 12 years of age or older who reported listening to radio online in the past month rose to 53% – nearly double the percentage who had done so only five years earlier in 2010 (27%). Smartphones are becoming the device of choice for online radio listening: 73% listened via smartphones in the last week, up from 66% in 2014. Desktops and laptops are not far behind, at 61%, though this was down from the previous year (67%).

Web-Based Listening in Cars

As smartphone listening grows, so too does Web-based listening in cars. As of January 2015, more than a third of U.S. adult cellphone owners (35%) have listened to online radio in the car. That is substantially more than the 21% who did so in 2013, and nearly six times the number (6%) who had done so in 2010.

Online Car Listening Through Cellphones Grows

Year % of Cellphone Owners Who Have Ever Listened to Online Radio Through Phone in Car
2010 6
2011 11
2012 17
2013 21
2014 26
2015 35

Source: Edison Research
Note: Edison surveys are conducted in January and February of each year.

Pew Research Center

News Stations

Number of All-News Stations Declines to 31According to Nielsen Media Research data, the number of all-news radio stations declined slightly in 2014 to 31 and is down from 37 in 2012. Although parent ownership of these 31 stations is distributed among a total of 15 entities, just one company – CBS Corporation – owns almost a third of the stations (10). Another eight companies own a single station, and the remaining six companies own either two or three of the news stations. Audience share in 2014 for the all-news category stands at 1% – the same percentage as for religious and Spanish-language contemporary stations.

News/talk/information stations make up one of the most popular broadcast radio formats, garnering an 11% share of listeners among the age 12-and-up demographic in 2014. That is second only to country music. The number of stations, however, has seen some fluctuation over the past few years.

Number of News/Talk/Information Radio Stations Fluctuates Between 1,900 and 2,000

Year Number of news/talk/information radio stations
2010 1,922
2011 1,992
2012 1,953
2013 1,994
2014 1,990

Pew Research Center

Revenue

Radio Revenues Declined Slightly in 2014AM/FM’s revenue from “spot” advertising (ads aired during radio broadcasts, its main revenue source) declined 3% in 2014, while revenue from digital and off-air advertising both posted strong gains for the year – 9% and 16%, respectively. Still, those two sources make up only about 16% of total advertising dollars. Overall, 2014 revenue for the radio sector was down 1%.

More data

Sirius XM Subscribers

Spotify and Pandora Active Users (2014)

Weekly Radio Listenership