Bridge Ratings Audience Erosion Study 2005 - Update


For Immediate Release:

Monday October 10 , 2005

Where Are My Listeners Going?

In November, 2004, Bridge Ratings & Research released initial results from a multi-year-long Audience Attrition project. The results in that report reflected audience erosion from terrestrial radio due to generally less time spent with AM/FM radio and more time spent with a variety of digital media, including MP3 players (including iPods), Internet radio, satellite radio and Compact Disc.

As part of Bridge Ratings’ on-going studies of radio listening behavior, the company updated the report in March 2005 by releasing the 2004 full-year trending from its Audience Attrition project as well as initial findings from January/February, 2005.

As part of the on-going review of audience attrition, this week Bridge Ratings releases its updated report reflect behavior through quarter 3 of 2005.

This study, which has been tracking such behavior since January, 2004, once again reveals behaviors we have assumed are taking place, but heretofore have not had clinical results to confirm. While this project is intended to be a two year study, initial results show:

1. Audience erosion to alternative audio entertainment continues to occur through all demographics.

2. Erosion rate is still most evident in younger demographics and is pronounced in the 12-24 year old age group however the adoption and use of new technologies are becoming commonplace among the 25+ age group.

3. On-going interest in alternative media has been building through each of the months thus far studied and has, in fact, accelerated through the third quarter of 2005.

4. Where male and female 12-17 year olds a year ago were equally using digital playback devices (iPod, MP3), Internet Radio and Compact Disc, time spent with these devices, especially MP3 players has increased among males faster than with females as 2005 progresses. Interestingly, satellite radio is still not considered a "high interest" item among this age group.

5. Audience erosion in traditional radio is slowing in most demographics. For example, where a 16% increase in alternative media use by Adults 35-64 was reported in February 2005, in September 2005 use had risen only 13%. Meanwhile, listening to traditional radio by this age group continues to rise from 70 quarter hours a week (Q4 2004) to 75. (See chart 1)

Methodology. Bridge Ratings measures CUME SHARE and FAVORITENESS rather than CUME and Average Quarter Hours.  AQH is a fabricated mathematical measurement of cume x an average quarter hour number composed of 'best guesses' by diary keepers.  Thus, the AQH number tells a station or its client nothing about the capability of the station to deliver listeners.

FAVORITENESS is a better measurement of loyalty especially when combined with the Cume number. The cume number divided by the favoriteness number yields a conversion number which more accurately measures station loyalty.  In Bridge Ratings studies, stations that convert their cume audience to favoriteness at the rate of 40% or more are powerful instruments in their communities. This is powerful information for both station and advertisers alike.

For the “Erosion Studies”, as an add-on to our usual questionnaire, Bridge Ratings selected 1000 persons over six national markets to be interviewed on an every other day basis regarding the listener’s use of AM/FM radio and, where applicable, their use of digital media players, Internet Radio, CD’s, or satellite radio. Questionnaires were structured to seek overall daily use of the aforementioned media with short recall requirements.

The results represent the multi-market sample’s behavior and reflects quarter hours of usage per week.

             Chart 1

Traditional Radio Audience Erosion to New Media    

Number of weekly quarter hours listened or used     

Demo Qtr 3 '04 Qtr 4 '04 Feb '05 Sept '05
62 / 55
53 /65
53 /67
25-49 A
66 /39
64 / 44
64 / 48
35-64 A
76 / 20
73 / 22
75 / 25


How to read: In the above chart, during quarter 3 of 2004, 12-24 year olds surveyed were spending 62 quarter hours per week with traditional radio (AM/FM) and 55 quarter hours per week with alternative media. During quarter 4, 2004, traditional radio usage among this group dropped to 54 quarter hours per week while their use of alternative media increased slightly to 64 quarter hours.

However, by September of 2005, use of traditional radio by this group had stablized while their use of new media continued to rise.

Between Q3 2004 and Q3 2005 , the 12-24 year olds surveyed used traditional radio 15 percent less (62 QH in '04 to 53 QH in '05).

According to our sample, by September 2005 Adults 25-49 were spending 3% less time with traditional radio compared to a year earlier and 23% more time with alternative media. These figures also indicate that perhaps time spent changes with both media is stablizing after a period of significant movement.

Where Does the Time Come From?

Looking at other media use among 25-49 year olds, daily use of television actually increased over 2004, Internet use was flat while listening to recorded music and reading books and magazines has decreased.

Time Spent with Media Activities per day
Demo Adults 25-49 Qtr 4 '04 Qtr 3 '05
3.6 hrs
4.1 hrs
62 mins
60 mins
Recorded Music
42 mins
37 mins
Books & Magazines
30 mins
25 mins

Time spent with non-media alternatives such as household activities (housework, food preparation, garden care), shopping, sports and socializing has also been affected.

Bottom Line

While it is difficult to discern specific reasons why, these latest findings suggest that traditional radio may be effectively addressing listener concerns to the point where declining use previously measured has not only slowed but a pattern of stabilization may be occurring.

It is interesting to note that media multi-tasking, the ability to conduct coincidental use with more than one entertainment source, once only common among 12-24 year olds may be contributing to these latest findings. With use of traditional radio stablizing and in some cases even increasing while use of MP3 players and the Internet increases, consumers appear to be working through use patterns which allow them to enjoy all their media preferences.

A full year 2005 update will be released by Bridge Ratings the first week of January 2006.

For additional information, contact Dave Van Dyke at 818.291.6420.

Markets measured: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, Nashville, Boston, West Palm Beach

Bridge Ratings is a ratings and research company based in Glendale, California. We are dedicated to providing on-going, immediate, reliable, useable and affordable audience measurement services for the radio industry. Our methodolgy is based on sound consumer research principles. We are in the business of tracking listeners - not listening. Because we are a true research company we offer flexibility


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