The Gist: Broadcast radio listeners are valuing music less and less, while music-listening elsewhere isn’t growing.

Today, when you can stream or download almost any music imaginable, you’d think that digital would have killed analog radio by now.

It turns out that Americans aren’t giving up the ghost. Broadcast radio is still going strong among U.S. adults: 61% of respondents say they still listen to broadcast radio stations. That’s significantly more than those who listen to music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora (24%) or satellite radio like SiriusXM (21%).

As a Millennial who rarely turns on the radio (only after all other technology fails), that’s surprising to learn. But, there’s a catch.

Since 2015, we’ve seen a sharp and steady decline in those tuning in to broadcast radio for the jams.

  Consider the following data, showing a gradual rise in broadcast radio listeners who value news, weather, and traffic, as well as on-air personalities:

Within the past three years, both questions have received about a 5% growth. What could account for these trends?

Radio listeners may be tuning in for more politically-related news and talk.

Since 2015, there has been substantial growth in those who follow politics “very closely,” appearing to plateau around the presidential election but still going strong.

When it comes to broadcast radio listeners who say music is not important to them, 46% say they follow politics very closely, compared to 34% of listeners who value music more.

Check out these numbers the same time two years ago, in 2015:

Only 28% of broadcast radio listeners who said music was not important to them were following politics closely. So, we’ve seen some pretty substantial growth. In fact, it appears that all broadcast radio listeners followed along this trend.

What About the Music?

In this politically-charged climate, it doesn’t seem far-fetched that American adults, in general, would be switching things up a bit, consuming more news and commentary and less music. Neither satellite radio, live streaming radio, nor music streaming services are growing. However, we are seeing more people switching from free to paid streaming services, (which is much more popular among Millennials.)

Will we continue to see a loss of interest in music listening on broadcast radio going forward? We’ll be watching.