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Radio Format Trends: 2012  

April 11, 2007

Between January 18th and March 31, 2007, Bridge Ratings conducted a study of 3211 listeners of traditional radio, Internet radio and non-radio listeners to determine radio format appeal for the future.

Utilizing Bridge Ratings' proprietary predictive analysis, the company identified major radio format types and played audio montages of those types to the total sample. While it is impossible to predict how today's radio formats will sound in five years, these results reflect listening estimates based on music preference, today's listening behavior the natural demographic shift that will occur over the next five years.

In addition to the standard major radio formats heard in most markets on traditional, Internet and satellite radio in 2007, the study also tested several youth-oriented (15-22) formats. The three that tested most positively: "Youth Inclusive", a listener participation music approach, "Youth News", a psychgraphically programmed news/talk concept, and "Current Blend", a primarily current-based music format combined with a "personality-peers" presentation.

Interestingly, these three youth-flavored formats were well-received by both today's 15-22 year old as well as today's 10-17 year old, the 15-22's of 2012.

The results that we are able to publish here reflect an average quarter hour audience level in order for us to compare tomorrow's listening levels with those the industry is already comfortable with today.

The resulting format growth map displayed above (a larger version may be viewed by Clicking Here) compares each of today's most listened to radio formats with our projections for 2012.

In overall listening performance, here are the top 5 terrestrial formats based on audience loss through Demographic shift:

1. Oldies -41%
2. Adult Contemporary (all forms) -32%
3. Classical -27%
4. Rock -26%
5. Adult Hits -19%

How will the audience disperse?

Of the 41% of the average quarter hour we estimate today's Oldies stations will lose,
27% of it will find Oldies on the Internet, 14% will prefer to use their personal digital devices (MP3 players, etc) and 59% will simply vanish due to the aging of the format's demographic center. It is also possible that a combination of the Internet and personal digital devices will siphon listening.

Some other attrition distribution we project:

Adult Contemporary - 38% Internet, 40% personal digital devices and 22% due to pure demographic shift.

Rock - 45% to the Internet, 40% to personal digital devices and 15% due to demographic shift. In fact of all the formats we tested, the Rock and Alternative formats will lose the least to demographic shift.

The top 5 formats that will gain the most from Internet drift?

1. Rock 45%
2. Adult Contemporary 38%
3. Alternative 35%
4. Adult Hits 30%
5. Smooth Jazz 30%

It is interesting to note that although Adult Hits is 5th on the list of formats that will generally lose the most audience by 2012, 30% of that loss will go to Internet radio formats that offer similar musical architectures.

The following chart shows each major format's projected growth by 2012:

Format Grwth +/- Internet Pers Digital Lost
Oldies
-41%
27%
14%
59%
Adult Hits
-19%
30%
18%
52%
Classical
-27%
17%
39%
44%
CHR
+3%
25%
41%
34%
Smooth Jazz
-19%
30%
43%
27%
Adult Contemporary
-32%
38%
40%
22%
Rock
-26%
45%
40%
15%
Alternative
-15%
35%
53%
12%
Country
+24%
News/Talk/Info
+20%
Spanish
14%
Urban
15%

This table lists radio formats and the projected percentage loss or gain in average quarter hour listening Monday through Sunday, 6am - Midnight. For the purposes of this study audience attrition will be due to time-spent-listening to the Internet or personal digital devices such as MP3 players and iPods. Attrition will also come as a result of demographic shift over the next five years.

The following group of charts graphically displays future growth trends:

This is a partial list of all formats studied.

Study conducted January 18 - March 31, 2007
Sample: 3211 persons 12+     Error: +/- 1.8%

 


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