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Best of the Sachs Report: Wherefore Art Thou Radio?

Reviewing prime radio listening age demographics and statistics

January 20, 2011 By Ed Sachs

Editor's Note: Ed Sachs has stepped away from writing the Sachs Report, but for the next couple of weeks, we're going to be running "best of" editions in this space; a new newsletter will be launching soon in its place. In this column, from late last year, Ed looks at the future of car radios:

T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house, we were listening to Christmas music on Pandora through our DVD player and TV sound system. Wow, how times have changed!

T'was not so long ago I lamented the CD mechanism in car stereo head units. (Why do we only use T'was in December? I love T'was, don't you?) As I said, you can stop worrying about the CD mechanism in new cars and aftermarket sales in five years, but do not leave out radio. To back up that strong suggestion, here are some interesting numbers from Edison Research that manufacturers should know.

For practical reasons, unless otherwise pointed out, the age group we refer to here are 12 to 24 year olds. In 2000, 29 percent of that demographic had a cell phone and now in 2010, it's up to 81 percent, with 40 percent of those being smartphones. Mostly they text (92 percent), search the Internet (51 percent), play games (50 percent) or use the device for social networking (45 percent). But important to note: 40 percent of this group use the device to listen to music.

How this group spends their free time is also interesting. In 2000, they spent 2.5 hours watching TV, 2.5 hours listening to radio and one hour on the Internet. In 2010, they spent 2.5 hours watching TV, only 1.3 hours listening to radio and now dedicate an hour a day to playing video games.

When asked where they learn about new music, 51 percent said they found new music on the radio and 46 percent said their exposure to new tunes comes from friends.

They are obviously no longer purchasing CDs, as the 11 purchases a month in 2000 has now dropped to less than three per month. Downloading music has gone from 31 percent in 2000 to over 65 percent in 2010.

Almost half of this group (49 percent) isn't listening to music on the radio in the morning on their way to work. In the 22 to 34 age demographic, 35 percent reported that the radio isn't part of their music listening habits in the morning. The two groups were within five perccentage points of each other with respect to either watching TV or looking to the Internet for morning entertainment.


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