Internet Radio Attracting 60 Million Americans

Internet radio stations are now attracting 60 million listeners – a week – in the US, according to the latest from Bridge Ratings.

That sounds like a lot of people, though the ramp-up will hit 77 million by 2015, if the projection proves correct.

Big number, but this is also a deceptively complicated space.  Pure-play internet radio stations are just part of the picture, attracting a healthy 38 million (or 62 percent) for at least five minutes a week.  That overlaps with the important category of terrestrial simulcasts, which lure a weightier 82 percent.  That shows the potency of local stations, though Bridge notes that internet-only and terrestrial simulcasts will reach parity by 2017.

In turn, the internet radio finding is just one component of a far broader report that also analyzes terrestrial radio and audio device habits.  On the terrestrial side, listener levels are predictably eroding, though the study details a considerable decline.  Specifically, Americans are now listening to an average of 18 hours per week – still a considerable amount, but 4 hours less than 2005.  That attrition is happening across the board, though most acutely within the teenage and 18-24 demographics.

A portion of those hours are getting absorbed by digital platforms, across PCs and devices.  The disconnected MP3 player is now clocking 11 hours per week, up 7 percent since 2007, though the bigger growth curve belongs to the smartphone.  Those are “creating all the disruption in this study,” according to Bridge, for obvious reasons.

But how much disruption?  According to Bridge, smartphone-based streaming audio is experiencing double-digit growth across every demographic.  The 18-24 set is clocking the most with 5 hours weekly, though the 55-plus category is growing the fastest.  Listening hours among the older set has expanded nearly 28 percent (to 2.3 hours weekly) since 2007.

Report by Alexandra Osorio.