Every week, according to Nielsen, Philadelphia radio reaches 3,740,743 adults. This is more consumers than use any other medium, including local TV, local cable, streaming video, social media, online audio, and newspapers.
Reach, though, is only one component used to calculate ratings. The other metric that contributes to the rating formula is the time spent using each medium. So, although for the past 10 years, AM/FM radio's reach has been significantly higher than the reach of local TV, consumers spent considerably more time watching TV. As a result of the math, TV has enjoyed higher ratings than radio.
For the first time, however, AM/FM radio ratings have exceeded local TV ratings by three percent among the key advertising demographic of 18-49-year-olds, according to Nielsen's Total Audience Data for the third quarter of 2023.
In the Philadelphia area, there are 2,194,494 18-49-year-olds, the majority of whom are millennials, a generation that now accounts for nearly one-third of all retail spending.
Over the past five years, the downward pressure on local TV ratings among 18-49-year-olds has been from the rapid decline of both reach and time spent viewing. During that time, says Nielsen, TV's reach in that vital audience fell by 28% while the daily time spent viewing plummeted by 56%
So, why does Philadelphia radio continue to thrive while local TV ratings plummet? Two of the most significant factors are mobility and accessibility.
Mobility: local radio is portable. while watching live or time-shifted local TV programming is mostly a fixed-position activity. As a result, 60% of radio listening happens away from home, primarily while driving. For obvious safety reasons, local TV stations are not a dashboard option in cars.
Once in the car, Philadelphia radio stations become the primary audio source despite the abundance of in-dash listening options.
According to a recent study by Edison Research, nearly 75% of consumers listened to AM/FM radio in their cars during the past 30 days. This is significantly more drivers than listened to their own digital music, podcasts, online audio, CDs, or satellite radio.
Although consumers utilize a variety of audio sources while in the car, drivers spend 75% of their time listening to local AM/FM radio, especially among advertising support media. Podcasts rank a distant number two with a 15% share.
The second reason why AM/FM radio ratings have remained strong versus local TV is online access.
According to Edison, every year, more-and-more radio listeners are consuming the live streams of local radio stations. In Philadelphia, for instance, 21.7% of consumers access their favorite stations online. As a matter of fact, 11% of the total time listening to local radio happens via the stream versus over the air.
On the other hand, live, and time-shifted content from local TV stations are primarily available only over the air or via cable and satellite. As a result, according to RindDigital, only 3.1% of TV viewers watch via online streaming.
Other factors have also contributed to the decline of local TV ratings, including a massive exodus from broadcast TV to streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon According to February 2023 viewing data from Nielsen, local TV stations now only account for 24.9% of all time spent watching video content. The percentage of total video time spent with streaming options has exploded from 26% in June 2021 to 38.1% last month.
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