Welcome to the 21st century, a time of staggering and rapid change. One change that many of you are probably familiar with is the number of modern households that have decided to forego having a landline phone. As a matter of fact my wife and I comprise one of these cell phone-only households.
Nielsen, the legendary TV ratings company that recently began crunching radio numbers, has discovered something that should make ears perk up throughout our industry: cell phone-only households listen to more radio! A new study done by the company in Lexington, KY, reveals that these homes listen to four hours per week more radio than the other homes sampled.
But wait! There’s more!
The study also found that more than 20 percent of people over age 12 in the Lexington market use cell phones as their sole form of telecommunication. In addition, cell phone-only households:
- Listen to 3.5 radio stations compared to less than 3 stations among the total sample
- Have an average quarter hour total radio rating of 17.3 percent versus 14.3 percent rating for the total sample
- Skew younger, primarily between the ages of 18 and 34
The finding is significant for a few reasons, Nielsen says. First, the study took place in a heartland market, what Nielsen calls “mainstream of the mainstream,” so it is likely indicative of much of the country. Second, because they are a younger crowd, cell phone-only listeners represent the future of radio listening. And, finally, the study underscores the value of radio in reaching a local audience, particularly those increasingly elusive, mobile young adults, according to Nielsen.
Ah, that elusive younger demographic! Sheer icing on the cake!
Seriously though, this is hugely important. It has been a recurring theme here on the blog that radio’s new frontier is mobile. These findings add weight to that approach. As our culture becomes more mobile we need to be able to communicate at our convenience. An oft overlooked aspect of this increased mobility in the age of the smartphone is that people are multitasking more. It is vastly easier to multitask with audio entertainment than video. Think of how many construction sites and workshops always have the radio going.
I can’t wait for more studies to be done on this topic, and after these Nielsen results I’ll bet they are not far off!