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Tops of 2019: Radio

2 minute read | December 2019

Amid the flurry of media headlines about the growing depth of the video streaming market, it’s easy for our other media options to get lost in the fanfare. Yet as the streaming wars heat up, it’s important to be mindful of just how much time consumers are spending with different media options.

 According to Nielsen audience measurement data, adults 18 and older in the U.S. spend just shy of six hours (5 hours, 51 minutes) with their TV-connected devices each week. While that’s nothing to thumb your nose at, it’s dwarfed by the amount of time Americans spend with traditional radio, the proverbial patriarch of the media industry. In fact, radio commands nearly 12 hours (11 hours, 51 minutes) of our weekly media diets—that’s almost four hours more than a typical work day.

But it’s not enough to simply know how much time people spend with radio. Capitalizing on the opportunities with the original electronic mass media hinges on knowing who’s listening to what, where and when. At a broad level, the news/talk format remains the most popular genre on the radio—a designation it’s held for nearly a decade. And with the U.S. presidential election coming up next year, the appeal of news/talk will likely remain strong in 2020.

Adult Contemporary (AC) and Country are also top genres among adults, but their trajectories are heading in different directions (AC is growing; Country is declining). Among younger listeners, Pop Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) and Urban Contemporary are most popular choices, while AC and Pop CHR are the top two genres among the 25-54 crowd.


This article includes top radio formats based on January-November average, average quarter-hour (AQH) share as well as the national listening landscape for the 10 most popular radio formats of 2018 in Nielsen’s PPM markets from the Monday-Sunday 6a-mid daypart. 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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