One Big Reason Teens are Streaming

Earlier this week Edison released the first finding from our Fall 2014 "Share of Ear" (SM) report -- that teens are now spending more time listening to pureplay Internet audio services like Pandora and Spotify than they do with AM/FM Radio.  You can see that release here.

A couple of points based on the many questions I have received on this.  First, as is noted in the release, listening to AM/FM via the Internet, in this case, counts towards AM/FM.  This analysis is talking about the content platform, not the delivery system.  Second, the 'reach' or 'cume' of AM/FM exceeds that of pureplays (not by a lot); it's the time spent with Pandora and Spotify that puts them ahead of AM/FM.  Third, as is stressed in the release, AM/FM is well ahead of Streaming among all other age groups, including the adjacent 18-24 year-old age group.

As some of the media coverage has pointed out, today's teens are 'Digital Natives' who have lived most of their lives with laptops, smartphones and tablets.  Except perhaps when they are in their parents' cars, they may well never encounter a traditional AM/FM receiver as part of their media day.

And I don't mean to ignore the fact that today, as has been the case now for decades, there are teenagers all over America who absolutely love their local Top 40 or Country (or whatever) radio stations.  One could look at this finding and easily spin it to point out how resilient AM/FM Radio is among this most-connected demographic. 


But as the president of a research company that does a lot of work in radio, I have to note that there is one other big reason: The 'Reap what you Sow' effect.  In all my years of doing radio research, virtually none of the research in the US is done against teenagers.  Virtually no radio stations perform formal research  for their music among teens nor target teens directly in their marketing or strategy.  Even for Top 40s, the target is 18-34 and the teens are expected to come along for the ride.

The situation is very different in many international markets where we work.  Elsewhere stations are targeting teens -- and while there are many variables at play here, they are keeping more teens on AM/FM content.  James Cridland in the UK touches on these points in his blog post here.

Now, I truly don't think it's out of the question that even some of these teens who mostly listen to Pandora or Spotify or other streaming services will 'grow into radio' as they finish their educations and enter the workforce.  But the marketing challenge of getting them to do so will be the likes that America's AM/FM Radio operators have never before faced.