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Media’s Mega Users: Finding TV and Radio’s Biggest Fans on their Home Turf

3 minute read | April 2015

Heavy viewers and listeners are often considered the ‘super fans’ of the media ecosystem. These power users devote significant hours of their lives to one medium or another and are the most likely to consistently engage with content and advertising found on those channels. Aligning with the famous “pareto principle,” which states that 80% of consumption comes from 20% of the participants, heavy media users make up the lion’s share of the usage in markets all across the U.S.

Recently, Nielsen released the Audio Today report profiling the listening habits of the 243 million Americans who use radio each week. The report also included a profile of the heaviest users across four media sectors. And an interesting headline emerged: heavy radio listeners and heavy TV viewers are, for the most part, mutually exclusive.

Heavy TV viewers watch nearly double the amount of TV each week as heavy radio listeners, and conversely, heavy radio listeners listen to nearly double the amount of radio each week as heavy TV viewers. Employment is the driving force behind these differences; indeed the majority of all radio usage nationwide comes from the employed audience while they are away from home. Based on habits alone, it is highly unlikely that a heavy radio listener would also be a heavy TV viewer because the heavy radio listener is much more likely to be away from home more often—where TV viewing is less likely to occur.

This is a major reason why the findings of other Nielsen studies which have shown that radio does an exceptional job of increasing TV tune-in, particularly in the days and hours leading up to a premier or other primetime event. The consumers most likely to be reached by a tune-in promotion on the radio are not big TV viewers and therefore offer the most opportunity to convert a set of ears on the dial into a pair of eyes on the screen. The same holds true when reversing the situation; radio broadcasters have for years used TV as an important marketing vehicle to entice new listeners to tune in.

In fact, of the four media profiled in the report, heavy radio listeners and heavy Internet users actually have the most in common, not just in their age and working status, but also in how they spend their time. Heavy radio listeners spend nearly nine hours a week online, second only to the heavy Internet group at over 16 hours weekly. And both of these groups are very likely to use social media to stay connected; nearly all (92%) heavy Internet users also use social media, and three-quarters of heavy radio listeners do, too.

In today’s crowded media jungle, knowing where to focus attention is crucial for marketers and content creators. Reaching enthusiastic users on their favorite medium is the most efficient way to make sure your messages hit home.


The chart above used Nielsen Scarborough data to conduct a quintile analysis. Specifically, this broke out radio listeners, TV viewers, Internet users and print newspaper readers into five different segments based on their amount of consumption, and then focused on the heaviest two groups that spend the most time with each medium during the week.

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