Friday, December 2, 2016


Pierre Bouvar
When Pierre Bouvard talks, I listen.  Bouvard is currently Chief Insights Officer for commercial station mega-owner Cumulus Media and Westwood One, a major distributer of syndicated programming and podcasts. In the early 2000s Bouvard was in charge of Arbitron’s development and rollout of PPM technology.

Bouvard is also a blogger. His blog on Westwood One’s website [link] offers excellent information and commentary about trends in commercial radio. 

Earlier this week Bouvard posted 6 SURPRISING TRENDS ABOUT DIGITAL AUDIO FROM THE LATEST EDISON RESEARCH SHARE OF EAR STUDY [link]. Today I’d like to focus on Bouvard’s takeaways and one of my my own based on Edison’s research.

As you probably know, Share of Ear [link] is a quarterly sweep of the consumption of audio from all sources by Americans age 13 and older.  The studies are based on perceptions and behaviors of 8,000 respondents who keep a 24-hour log of their audio usage. The most recent Share of Ear report was conducted by Edison research in conjunction with Cumulus and Westwood One. You can download the report at [link].

Lets take a look at Bouvard’s 6 SURPRISING TRENDS:

1. American time spent with personally owned music is down 9%. The U.S. is transitioning from purchased entertainment (CDs and DVDs) to renting content from Spotify and Netflix. 

With music purchases down, the share of American audio time spent to owned music has dropped from 15.1% last year to 13.8%.  

2. YouTube beats Pandora and becomes the number one streaming audio service. The audience share of consumers who listen to YouTube music videos has surged 28% from a 5.9 share last year to a 7.6 share in Q3 2016.

3. Pandora audience shares are stagnant. Over the last year, Pandora’s audience share has been stuck in the mid-6’s. Their growth has stalled. Meanwhile, on-demand services such as YouTube and Spotify have soared. No wonder Pandora just announced a new on-demand service.

4. Spotify’s early 2016 red-hot growth has tempered. Spotify started 2016 with a bang, notching major audience growth. Over the most recent two quarters its audience share growth has been more measured. Among 18-24 Millennials, Spotify ties Pandora in share of time spent listening.

5. Listening to Apple Music steadily shrinks. Apple Music was announced to much fanfare, but since then audience shares have steadily eroded. The service’s tiny shares of time spent listening are half of last year’s audience share. The takeaway: Apple is not a media company and is struggling to compete in the already crowded digital audio space.

6. Despite the growth in new streaming options, AM/FM radio listening continues to dominate with a 50 percent share of audio time spent. Streaming services have grown at the expense of time spent with owned music, not AM/FM radio. In Q3 2016, AM/FM shares are 14x bigger than Spotify and 8x bigger than Pandora. 

Bouvard is a tireless cheerleader for commercial AM/FM broadcasting and his blog is often a rah-rah for Cumulus and Westwood One. However his analysis is relevant to those of us in noncom media. FACT: While digital platforms rise and fall, traditional radio keeps on trucking. In-vehicle listening continues to be broadcast radio’s sweet spot.


Often this type of research states the obvious. In Bouvard’s blog post I saw the chart on the right.  The data comes from the US Census Bureau. It shows the type of transportation people say they use going to and from work: Private Vehicle or Public Transportation.

I had no idea of the disparity between New York and other major markets. In NYC the majority of people say they use Public Transportation (such as subways) to commute. In LA it is all about your own vehicle.

Bouvard uses this factoid to support his theory that media time buyers in NYC don’t hear much radio because they aren’t in cars on the freeway. So, they assume no one else is hearing radio despite considerable evidence to the contrary. I don’t know if Bouvard’s theory is true, but it raises interesting questions about the many public media foundation folks who work and live in NYC.

(Satire not meant to be taken seriously)

Sometimes on Friday evening I get together with pals who are also fans of vinyl records.  Everyone brings something new on vinyl to share with the others.  Here are the albums I am bringing.

JOYCE (self titled)

Everyone knows Joyce.  She has worked in Accounts Payable for almost 20 years. She is meek at work but did you know she rocks out in her private life. On this LP Joyce covers the greats: Janis Joplin’s Piece of My Heart, Aimee Winehouse’s Rehab and several Susan Boyle tunes.


Research shows a strong correlation between Country music, heavy alcohol use and depression. John Bult’s latest album is proof the research is true. After you listen to Bult’s version of George Jones’ nugget If Drinking Don’t Kill Me, Her Memory Will, you will probably start drinking yourself.


Fargo favorites, the SUITS are even more adventurous on their new release. I know you will love their barbershop version of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side.


Yes, this is me. Sometimes I put on my leisure suit and head downtown to a special little bar to sing old favorites. But I didn’t record this album at the bar – I recorded it in the shower. The acoustics in there are perfect but sometimes the lyrics get wet. I hum then. Send me your requests and maybe I can record them for next LP.

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