AM/FM radio continues to dominate a rapidly expanding audio universe in the U.S., accounting for half the time Americans spend listening to audio. AM/FM grabbed a 50% “share of ear” according to new first quarter 2018 data from Edison Research – more than triple that of streaming audio. The new numbers include both AM/FM radio delivered over the air and via online streaming. But broadcast radio receivers are far and away the top device for listening to audio.
Since its inception four years ago, Edison’s quarterly Share Of Ear studies have become the de facto way to stack various audio sources up against one another to see how Americans allocate their audio time. With AM/FM, streaming and podcasts each measured by different measurement providers, using different methodologies, Share Of Ear has emerged as the definite single-source barometer for all things audio.
At 50%, the amount of time Americans 13+ spend with AM/FM is more than triple that for streaming audio (16%), which ranks second, followed by owned music (14%), SiriusXM (8%), TV music channels (5%) and podcasts 4%.
Despite the ubiquity of smartphones and the quick adoption of smart speakers, most AM/FM content is consumed on a traditional radio receiver. Breaking out audio consumption time by device, AM/FM radio receivers have a commanding lead (47%), more than double that of mobile devices (23%) and computers (10%). After that it’s SiriusXM receivers (6%), TV audio channels (6%), CD players (4%), internet-connected TV/devices (1%) and smart speakers (1%).
Overall, four in ten respondents listened to at least some audio on a smartphone in a day.
While it remains small, the share of audio time Americans spend with podcasts has doubled during the past four years, in what Edison senior VP Tom Webster calls a major shift. Podcasts only make up 4% of the time Americans 13+ spend with audio, up from 2% in 2014. But they’re ramping up quickly. “That’s a really significant shift when you consider that the amount of time spent listening to audio has remained static,” Webster said during “The Podcast Consumer” webinar Thursday afternoon.
The Podcast Consumer
Although AM/FM radio remains dominant overall, regular podcast listeners show markedly different behavior. Podcasts command a 33% share for those who have listened to one within the past 24 hours. “Podcasts are the No. 1 source of audio for podcast listeners,” Webster said. “If you are a podcast consumer, you spend 33% of your audio time listening to podcasts.” For these podcasts enthusiasts, AM/FM radio is second (25%), followed by a near-tie between owned music (15%) and streaming audio (14%).
Looking at just the time spent listening to audio sources on a smartphone, Edison found that podcasts account for 11% of that time, behind steaming audio (39%) and owned music (33%). But podcast’s share rises to 52% when drilling down into the narrow subset of time spent listening to audio sources on a smartphone among those who listen to podcasts. “If you’re a podcast listener listening to audio on your smartphone, there’s a better than even chance that it’s a podcast,” Webster said.
It’s noteworthy that podcasting doubled its share of audio time while the number of hours spent with audio remained largely the same at four hours a day during the past four years, Webster observed. However podcast listeners spend almost 50% more time with audio overall than the average American, approaching six hours. “Not only is there user growth but there’s also growth in the numbers of podcasts we’re listening to and the amount of time we’re spending listening to them,” Webster said. “All of that has added up to what is really a significant shift in our share of ear data.”
The new research includes info collected from 5,000 one-day audio diaries completed through Q1 2018.
Edison and Triton Digital’s 2018 Infinite Dial study, released earlier, found an estimated 48 million Americans are weekly podcast listeners.