Radio is more popular in the US than you might expect

The common assumption in the tech world is that old media platforms are dying a slow death. As smart devices become more and more ubiquitous, the need for traditional platforms like linear cable TV seems to only lessen with each passing year.

But while there’s no denying the changes new technologies have brought, it might be unwise to discount just how influential those older platforms remain. For instance, radio, not smartphones or PCs, reaches more Americans each week than any other media platform, according to a recent Nielsen report charted for us by Statista.

Roughly 228 million adults in the US listened to some form of radio at least once a week in the fourth quarter of 2016, the report said. That’s good for 93% of the US adult population, and the figure is growing. TV had the second-farthest reach at 89%, followed by smartphones at 83%. The PC and tablet were well behind, at 50% and 37%, respectively.

Note that all of this is about reach — when it comes to actual usage, American adults still spend way more time watching TV than anything else. And it’s worth noting that the smartphone’s reach grew nearly 10% year-over-year.

But the enduring usage of the radio seems to suggest that the rise of on-demand streaming doesn’t have to mean the death of older audio technologies. Since the bulk of this radio usage is coming from people in cars, it also suggests the “death of car ownership” narrative may still be a bit premature.


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