Internet Radio Listening Doubles

A study released earlier this month by The Arbitron Company and Edison Media Research shows that Internet radio broadcasting continues to be a fast-growing medium. The survey of Arbitron diarykeepers also brings to light both the challenges and opportunities that the Internet presents to radio broadcasters, particularly in the much-talked-about arena of e-commerce.

An update to the Internet radio listening study that Arbitron and Edison first conducted back in July 1998, this latest edition of the Internet Listening Study examines how radio listeners use the medium, who is listening online, and what potential e-commerce represents for radio as an advertiser-supported medium. Some 1350 fall 1998 Arbitron diarykeepers were interviewed for the study.

Online access is burgeoning. Currently, 41% of all Americans have access to the Internet, either at home or at work. (An additional 9% of Americans access the Internet through schools and libraries.) This is up significantly from the 30% home/work Internet access figure reported in the first Listening Study, conducted in July of last year. Median time spent online is holding steady at 4 hours per week at home, 3.4 hours per week at work. This finding indicates that increased Internet traffic is almost entirely due to new users signing on in the last six months.

According to the report, online radio/audio listenership has doubled in six months. Currently, 13% of all Americans say they have listened to radio on the Internet, compared with 6% six months ago. Also of note for radio stations: 23% of consumers say they would prefer to buy music from radio-station websites, a decided advantage for an industry that looks to music as its key programming element. More than one quarter (26%) of all online Americans have used the Web for actual shopping. Of those who have shopped online, 20% have shopped frequently for music and CDs, 18% for computer equipment, 16% for software, 12% for books, travel items, and banking services, and 11% have purchased stocks and mutual funds. This past holiday season, 8% of all Americans purchased gifts online. The median household online expenditure for the holidays was $175. Nearly 60% of these online holiday shoppers fell into the 25-44 age group.