Radio Attracts Loyal Minorities, Digital Promises Growth
Even with an ever-expanding menu of media choices, African Americans and Hispanics are avid consumers of local radio. In fact, radio reaches more blacks and Hispanics than any other platform, including TVs, smartphones and TV-connected devices. And minority listeners are increasingly using digital devices, including smartphones and voice-activated speakers, to access local radio. This is welcome news for radio stations trying to reach diverse audiences, as well as their advertising partners.
According to a new report from Nielsen, blacks and Hispanics make up one-third of the total radio audience. Am/FM stations reach 92% of black Americans weekly and 96% of Hispanics. (Overall, radio reaches 93% of Americans weekly.)
Nielsen says radio successfully reaches black and Hispanic listeners because of growing availability across locations and devices. Minorities have strong out-of-home radio listening and. In fact, 70% of African American and Hispanic radio listening happens in the car, Nielsen reports.
That’s a major selling point for radio stations pitching local advertisers who seek to connect with minorities. Strong out-of-home and in-car listening means marketers can reach blacks and Hispanics while they are near retail locations, helping deliver shoppers to stores — and cash registers.
“Radio not only provides the largest reach gateway to Black and Hispanic audiences, but connects with them at key moments, such as when driving in their cars just before a potential purchase,” the report said.
So what are minority listeners tuning into on radio? Among African American adults 18 years and older, Urban AC, Urban Contemporary and Rhythmic CHR ranked as the topic formats, while Hispanics 18+ preferred Mexican Regional, Spanish Contemporary/ Spanish AC, and AC stations. Among both groups, listening spikes in the morning and then again during the evening commute, which partly explains radio’s strong out-of-home performance with minority audiences.
Streaming audio is attracting more minority listeners at home and on-the-go. About 60 percent of both blacks and Hispanics stream local radio on their smartphones.
Smart speakers are boosting listening as well. In fact, smart speaker ownership among blacks and Hispanics is higher than the national average, with 33 percent of black households owning a smart speaker like Alexa or Google Home and 32 percent of Hispanic households owning a device, compared to the national average of 29 percent. What are minority consumers using their speakers for? Audio is a top activity, with news, music, streaming local radio, podcasts and sports among the top activities.
The report indicates that podcasts for minority listeners is an area ripe for development. Historically, podcast listening as skewed male and white, and one explanation has been that there is not enough content that interests minority listeners. Now, Nielsen reports that podcast listening is growing among blacks and Hispanics, indicating an opportunity to develop on-demand content for these interested consumers. Among black podcast listeners,comedy is the most popular genre, followed by news as the second-most popular, and music, society and culture, and health round out the top five. Hispanic users’ top five genres are news, comedy, society and culture, music and education.
This diversity of topics is good for radio stations and their ad partners. “While news and comedy are the top podcast categories, you’ll notice that podcasts appeal to a wide range of user interests, which makes it easier for advertisers to connect with their target audiences,” the report said.