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Young Listeners Are Driving the Surge in News Radio Listening

2 minute read | June 2017

Americans love a good news story, and news consumption has been at all-time highs across certain platforms over the past 18 months, as Nielsen’s most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report profiled. And while TV viewing accounts for a significant slice of news consumption, Americans listened to more than 11.5 billion hours of news across Nielsen’s portable people meter (PPM) markets last year, up from 10.5 billion in 2015.

News has remained a hot topic across the radio airwaves this year, as the first quarter saw a continued surge in tune-in on news-formatted stations, building on the strong results of last year’s perpetual political news cycle.

For further perspective on the recent increases, we’ve combined listening trends from all News/Talk (both commercial and non-commercial outlets), All News and Spanish News Talk stations across Nielsen’s PPM markets and trended the results of the past two years against the first quarter of 2017. This is the same lineup of stations used in the Nielsen Total Audience Report.

What jumps off the page is the difference in long-term growth and the share that news radio stations garner with different age groups. News radio alone accounts for a fifth of all radio usage among adults 50 and older, which is virtually unchanged since 2015. Listening trends among Millennials (18-34) are at the other end of that spectrum: News radio makes up a much smaller portion of their radio usage, but share among this group has grown the fastest in the last two years. In fact, the first quarter share for news radio among this demo was 24% higher than in 2015 and 14% higher than in 2016. The growth story for listeners 25-54 was similar: first-quarter 2017 share was 19% higher than in 2015 and 12% higher than in 2016.

Data used in this article is inclusive of multicultural audiences. Hispanic consumer audiences are composed of both English and Spanish-speaking representative populations.

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