Radio Listening Overtakes Television for the First Time; Studies Cite Cable Cord Cutting

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

Radio has overtaken television for the first time in history among persons 18-49 in average audience and weekly reach.

According to the watched Nielsen Total Audience Report, live and time-shifted television’s dominance has been consistently shrinking over the last few years. In 2022, the long-predicted resurgence of radio in the face of cable cord cutting came to pass. Media trade publications, citing other confirming studies, this week reacted to the seismic shift in Americans’ preferences.

“The MRI Simmons January 2023 ‘How Americans Watch TV’ report reveals 51% have cut the cord. Another 10% are ‘cord tepid,’ meaning they have cut back on their cable TV package or are contemplating ‘cord shaving.’ Only 38% of Americans are ‘cord content,’ reported Pierre Bouvard in Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group’s blog.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, Nielsen found radio’s reach was 31% smaller than television. By 2021, the difference was only 17% and, as of the last quarter, radio was ahead of television in the coveted demographic by 3%.

Besides cable cord cutting, Edison Research reported this month people returning to the office after the pandemic is, if you will, driving a rebound in radio listening.

“Americans aged 25-54 spend over half of their daily audio time (55%) with AM/FM radio (including over-the-air and streams), and Americans 55+ spend the overwhelming majority of their ad-supported audio time (78%) with AM/FM radio,” Edison reported March 8 in its quarterly Share of Ear reports.

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