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News and Sports Lead the Way for Radio Listeners this Fall

2 minute read | October 2016

Election Day is just around the corner, and the effects of the final weeks of the campaign for the White House are rippling across the media spectrum. Americans are tuning in, turning on and consuming the steady stream of news and information available across platforms. This thirst for coverage of the U.S. presidential race is evident in everything from the debate viewership numbers to this month’s radio listening results for the News/Talk format.

The release of Nielsen’s portable people meter (PPM) ratings for October reveal that News/Talk stations are continuing to grow their audience, as has been the case over much of the past year. This month’s 9.9% share of audience among all listeners 6 and older is a sharp uptick from a year ago (9.1% in October 2015), and represents significant growth for the format from the summer months of June and July, when News/Talk was a full share point lower (8.9% in June).

These results show a rising tide for News/Talk, with audience growth happening across the board. And while this growth is expected during a presidential election year, it’s worth noting that the 25-54 audience to the format reached its highest point this month (7.3%) in more than three years. News/Talk ranked second in the PPM markets in October, vaulting ahead of Country, Hot Adult Contemporary and Adult Contemporary.

Not surprisingly, News/Talk’s audience levels are comparable to the same month four years ago when we last elected a president. However, the format’s share of audience among Millennials (those aged 18-34) is actually larger this time around.

And while News/Talk is following seasonal patterns that we observe every four years, Sports radio is in the middle of its annual upswing that corresponds to one of the biggest times of year for sports fans—the culmination of the Major League Baseball season along with the return of the NFL. Last year, All Sports radio peaked at its highest levels ever seen in PPM measurement; and this month the record-setting pace continues, particularly with Millennials.

Last month we detailed the trend of the Sports radio audience across the years: October and November are the peak of listening, followed by January and February to a lesser degree, when the NFL playoffs take center stage in American culture.

All signs point to another strong November showing in the spoken word arena, both for News/Talk and Sports.

*Nielsen Audio officially has 48 measured PPM Markets, but three of them (Nassau-Suffolk, Middlesex-Somerset-Union, and San Jose) are included in the larger New York and San Francisco metro areas. Therefore, the listening data from those Markets are included in these results even though we did not break them out separately.

Data used in this report is inclusive of multicultural audiences. Hispanic consumer audiences are composed of both English and Spanish speaking representative populations.

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