Share of Ear Study: radio listening vs streaming audio in Canada

From where I sit On The Kowch, the Share of Ear study in Canada By Edison Research commissioned by Radio Connects, not only gives a comprehensive look at Canadians’ share of time spent listening to AM/FM radio and streaming audio, but proves what I’ve been saying for years to the deaf ears of radio management and sales people that more people listen to radio overnight then they cared to admit.

Share of Ear audio landscape chart

Share of Ear logoNo surprise that morning AM/FM radio in Canada has the lion share of tuning on all platforms at 72%. No surprise that 10a-3p is second at 62%. But look at the percentage of people tuned to radio between 3p and 7p (58%) compared to 59% between midnight and 6am. Now I will concede that the overall audience is larger in the afternoon than it is overnight. But what supports my arguement is the Share of Ear study looks at the overall percentage of people who listen to audio on all platforms. So of all people who are awake overnight and listening to different audio platforms, 59% of them are listening to the radio to keep them company overnight.

Bad radio is pushing listeners to other audio plaltforms

In my opinion, Overnight radio programming (on talk radio with infomercials, repeat broadcasts or U.S. syndicated comedy or conspiracy shows and music radio that discourages personality radio with its more music/less talk or voice tracking) is so bad that the study shows 20% of those listening to all audio platforms overnight rather plug into streaming audio. The second highest daypart for streaming audio is 7p-midnight. Why? Because too many radio managers think it’s not worth spending money on local live talent and good programming in the evening. The net result according to the Share of Ear study is that 7p-midnight you have only 42% listening to the radio, 21% listening to owned music (CDs, and digital music files) 17% to streaming audio and 20% to other online platforms.

By The Numbers:

Share of Ear study audio landscape chart

How the Study was Conducted

Radio Connects commissioned Edison Research to conduct a nationally representative study of 1,022 Canadians ages 13+ to measure their time spent listening to audio sources. Respondents completed a 24-hour diary of their audio listening on an assigned day. Diaries were completed both online and by-mail using a paper diary. Diaries were completed in both English and French.

What media is saying about Share of Ear Canada study

Inside Radio

“The Canada Share of Ear study’s streaming services figure of 9% is an interesting comparison to the 15% figure in the U.S. version. Notably, Canada has a music streaming landscape that differs from the USA’s; Pandora is not available there, and both iHeartRadio Canada and Radioplayer Canada launched this year.”

Acess Radio

“SHARE OF EAR: CANADA was commissioned by RADIO CONNECTS, which promotes and markets radio to CANADIAN advertisers and agencies. The presentation was unveiled in TORONTO as part of an event for the advertising community sponsored by NUMERIS, CANADA’s broadcast ratings cooperative.

“CANADA has a unique audio landscape that differs from the U.S. Fewer of the familiar audio brands are available, though broadcasters have launched CANADIAN versions of iHEARTRADIO and RADIOPLAYER (a cooperative streaming effort between multiple broadcasters) within the last year. “SHARE OF EAR” will provide a first look at how CANADIANS use all sources of audio with a comprehensive overview.”

Rain News

“Edison Research expanded its Share of Ear research franchise to Canada. The company released a graphic overview of top-level results, indicating how Canadian consumer spend their listening time. As with the U.S. version of Share of Ear, Edison accounts for virtually all sources of audio. The average daily audio consumption in Canada is 4 hours and 14 minutes. Broadcast radio holds a 61% share of all Canadian listening, followed by owned music collections at 16%. Streaming has a share of 9%. That contrasts with Canada’s neighbor to the south; the U.S. has a 50% share for broadcast and 15% for streaming. Some of the differences could be due to availability — market-leading internet radio service, Pandora, is not available in Canada. However, 2017 has thus far seen the launches of both iHeartRadio Canada and Radioplayer Canada, and any additional rollouts could lead to shifts in listening habits.”


“The first-ever Share of Ear: Canada, an Edison Research survey commissioned by radio marketing and advocacy group Radio Connects, has determined that broadcast radio listening in Canada is even greater than in the U.S. Results showed that AM/FM radio stations account for 61 percent of all Canadian listening, whether over-the-air or via streaming. The U.S. is 50 percent. Streaming audio services comprise 9 percent of listening, compared to 15 percent in America.

“In addition to terrestrial and streaming audio, the study showed that respondents listened to their own music collections 16 percent, TV music channels six percent, SiriusXM Satellite Radio four percent and podcasts 3 percent.The study also found that Canadians spend an average of 4 hours and 14 minutes every day listening to audio, slightly more than their U.S. counterparts but didn’t offer a comparative figure.

“We are pleased to bring our unique methodology for capturing all audio to Canada for the first time,” says Edison Research president Larry Rosin. “Bravo to Radio Connects for giving broadcasters a potent tool to demonstrate the power of the medium in a way that goes beyond empirical evidence, and for providing the entire audio industry with a report card.”

Another study – a recent Nielsen Canada Music 360 study – shows Canadian millennial listeners are more adventurous when it comes to seeking out their music on muiltple platforms. The Nielsen study pegs millennial streaming at 42% and older listeners at 26%! That’s a big difference from the Share of Ear study showing streaming audio is only at 9%.

Who is right: Share of Ear Study or Canada Music 360 study?

I don’t know! Both studies were conducted by top of the line research companies.

Whatever study radio owners and execs choose to believe, they need to understand that in 2017 and beyond, the audio landscape is constantly changing. It’s not me saying this … it’s in Radio Connects’ press release:

“Despite a constantly changing audio landscape, broadcast radio controls more than 60% of the more than four hours a day that Canadians spend with all sources of audio. The audio space in Canada is vibrant and changing and now 9% of time spent listening to audio is with pureplay streaming services in Canada – such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and others.”

Not to be Chicken Little, but from where I sit On The Kowch, radio may be KING today, but Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, owned digital music and podcasts aren’t going away. The next Share of Ear Canada study results might not be so rosy if radio doesn’t get its act together and invest more in programming across all day parts to keep people listening instead of plugging into other sources of audio.

kowchmedia consultant Steve KowchSteve Kowch ran two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations in Montreal and Toronto for more than 14 years. He was National Director of NewsTalk Radio Programming for Astral Media. He was a professor at two of Toronto’s leading broadcast schools and is the author of   99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG In Media   Today Steve is Canada’s leading media coach at kowchmedia helping emerging radio talent chase their dream to become great broadcasters.

Contact Steve at 647-521-6397

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