For immediate release: January 3, 2007
2006 was a 'tipping point' of sorts for several media competing for listeners' time and use.
Internet radio use continued to rise and terrestrial radio streams began to record significant unique user counts as the industry as a whole spent the better part of the year concentrating on marketing their over the air streams or developing variations of their on-air product for internet streaming.
Satellite radio did not quite hit its year-long goal of subscribers, but the sector performed admirably and, short of MP3 players, satellite radio is the only other technology growing at such levels. (+52% year-over-year).
The iPod and MP3 players continued to roll as a reported 90 million are now in the hands of Americans. The number of households with more than one MP3 player escalated during 2006 as users either replace older models or are purchasing units to coincide with variations in lifestyle.
During the month of December 2006, Bridge Ratings interviewed 3500 persons 12+ on a national basis to determine use among the following audio media competing for time: Terrestrial radio, Satellite Radio, Internet Radio, MP3 Players and HD Radio.
Among Americans using these technologies, terrestrial radio continues to dominate overall market penetration for the number of people listening for five minutes or more in a typical week despite the number of options available. 93.5% of Americans still listen in an average week, while MP3 players (including iPods) reached 30% of the population.
57 million Americans listen to some form of Internet Radio in a typical week according to our interviews. Satellite radio's nearly 14 million subscribers accounts for nearly 5% of the U.S. population and HD radio ended 2006 with about a million listeners.
Time Spent Listening
While market penetration for all but terrestrial radio falls under 40% of the U.S. population, the number of hours users of each medium spend listening represents a more interesting story.
Members of the satellite radio nation though representing only 4.6% of the population spend the most time with this technology in a typical week (21+ hours). Overall, our sample of 12+ persons spends more time with Internet radio than they do listening to their MP3 players, but this statistic reverses itself when looking at the 12-24 year old age group which spends nearly 21 hours a week listening to their MP3 players - more than any other medium on this list.
And though HD radio represents a very small portion of the market, those that do own these radios spend considerable time listening during most weeks (12.5 hours). What's preventing them from listening more? "Poor broadcast content" is the number one most mentioned reason, referring to the lack of programming options that appeal to these users of HD radio. Traditional radio devoted significant dollars to marketing and building their HD offerings during 2006, but clearly the potential audience does not find most of the programming options to be worthy of significant listening.
Intent to Listen
Perhaps the most eye-opening part of this new study is in the area of "intent to listen". We asked our sample of 3500 persons 12+ if they expect to be listening to these media More, The Same or Less in one year.
Owners of HD radio scored with the largest increase in listening (47% said "more") while traditional radio delivered the fewest (15% who said they expect to be listening more in one year). Satellite radio listeners and those spending time listening on the Internet recorded the second highest instances (39% and 38% respectively) of increased time spent. And though MP3 players fall in fourth position among these five media for increased time spent listening, the medium jumps to first among listeners ages 12-24 years of age with 41% indicating they expect to listen more to their MP3 players. 52% of the young group expects to be listening less to terrestrial radio.