While your mom's obsession with true-crime podcasts such as Serial may seem like just another fad, it's actually part of a larger trend in the media industry, according to a report published Friday.
The Pew Research Center's annual State of the News Media report shows more Americans are watching Sunday morning political talk shows and listening to podcasts now than in previous years. Between 2015 and 2016, viewership of the Sunday programs rose by about 14 percent, while the number of people who listen to podcasts monthly has grown by approximately 15 percent since 2008.
And — despite the rise cord-cutters — viewership for NBC, ABC and CBS morning and evening newscasts has remained relatively stable, as has the audience for traditional radio. According to the Pew report, which included metrics compiled by Nielsen Media Research and published by the Radio Advertising Bureau, 91 percent of Americans ages 12 or older listened to AM/FM radio in any given week in 2016.
Meanwhile, there has been a substantial growth in the audience for internet radio, especially in cars. The Pew report found that in 2017, 40 percent of American cellphone users have used their devices to listen to online radio in the car using a phone. In 2010, that number was only 6 percent. At the same time, monthly listeners of online radio itself has grown by 4 percent in the past year alone.
TV and radio news executives, whose industries are facing significant disruption from digital upstarts, will likely be encouraged by this latest report. Steady and growing audiences are good selling points for major networks, especially as the rise of the Google-Facebook duopoly continues apace.
According to the Pew report, revenues for television stations have grown while radio stations have experienced relative financial stability. For NBC, ABC and CBS, advertising revenue estimates for evening news programs were up 12 percent in the first three quarters of 2016 from 2015, while the networks' morning shows grew only about 3 percent in 2016 from 2015 in the period between January and September, according to Kantar Media.