That’s according to the latest stats shared by Arbitron, whose half-year report shows a substantial gain in listeners year-over-year.
The tally shows that roughly 93 percent of Americans over the age of 12 – ie, 242.1 million users – tune into traditional, broadcast radio at least once a week. The broader US population is now pushing past 313 million, with a substantial chunk (ie, approximately 15 percent or so) under the age of 12.
This is exactly what it sounds like: old-school, broadcast radio, not satellite, internet, or mobile-based streams. Actually, we thought there was something wrong with that stats, but Arbitron confirmed that this indeed refers to traditional broadcasting. “This data is for only over-the-air broadcasts,” an Arbitron executive told to Digital Music News.
And they also told us that nearly 600,000 new listeners have joined since last year. The 18-34 set was a strong contributor, though the overlapping 25-54 demographic displayed declines.
All of which seems to raise the question: why the near saturation, especially given all the complaints people have about this format? This isn’t the first report to show this extreme level of usage, despite lots of repetition, lots of breaks, and stunningly little format variety. And, despite huge competition from satellite radio, Pandora, and non-radio formats like Spotify, all of whom are encroaching upon the dashboard.
Perhaps out of all the possible explanations, convenience and ease-of-use is the strongest. Radio is something you just turn on, it sits on your dashboard, and it doesn’t require subscriptions, contracts, or apps. On top of that, there’s a common listening experience that remains completely unmatched by Pandora, Sirius, Songza, or even Turntable.fm. Because no matter how schlocky and repetitive, there are probably millions dialed into the same call letters at any given moment.
There’s comfort in that.