When Edison Research started the Infinite Dial Study in 1998, the goal was to understand how Americans use emerging forms of audio and new media. In the first study, only a tiny number of consumers had ever tried audio streaming over dial-up connection. 24 years later, the Infinite Dial is the longest-running survey of consumer behavior with digital media in America.
Here are six surprising findings from Edison’s recently released study of 1,502 Americans, 12 years and older, surveyed in January 2022.
1. OMG TikTok: Explosive growth means audio content creators must prioritize the platform for audience engagement and marketing
At current pace, the TikTok video app to could soon become America’s leading social platform.
Outside of TikTok, the audiences for social platforms are:
- Stable: Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn
- Down slightly: Snapchat
- Up slightly: Instagram, Twitter
Among persons 12+, the most used social networks are Facebook (63%), Instagram (46%), and TikTok (36%).
Among monthly podcast listeners, the most used social networks are Facebook (68%), Instagram (64%), and TikTok (45%).
2. Smart speakers are more important than ever as an at-home distribution platform for radio broadcasters: 40% of smart speaker owners do not have a radio at home
Currently 35% of American homes have a smart speaker, up slightly from 2021 (33%) and up significantly from 2018 (18%). Smart speakers are now more likely to be the sole method for listening to AM/FM radio stations at home.
In 2018, 28% of smart speaker owners did not own a radio at home. In 2022, 40% of smart speaker owners do not own a radio at home.
3. AM/FM radio buys should allocate 14% of budgets to the AM/FM radio stream and 84% to over-the-air AM/FM radio; After four years of stability, online audio experiences a significant listening surge
Monthly and weekly online audio audiences have leapt forward by five points. 73% of Americans have listened to audio streaming in the last month and 67% have listened in the last week. All this growth is coming from persons 35-54 and 55+. Monthly persons 12-34 streaming audiences max out at 87%.
Americans have become thoroughly habituated to online audio streaming. 92% of the monthly audience also listens weekly.
The ideal split for an AM/FM radio buy is 86% for over-the-air AM/FM radio and 14% to the AM/FM radio stream. Edison Research’s recently released Q4 2021 “Share of Ear” tracking study reveals the share of total AM/FM radio listening coming from the stream has jumped from 8% to 14% among persons 25-54.
4. Americans who have ever tried podcasting soars to a record 62% while monthly/weekly audiences dip slightly as younger demos reengage with activities away from home
Here is a one-page overview of six years of explosive podcast audience growth.
The growth in podcast awareness and listenership over the last six years has been amazing:
- Nearly eight in ten 12+ Americans are familiar with the term podcasting, up from 60% in 2017.
- 62% of Americans have ever listened to a podcast, a +55% increase since 2017 (40%).
- 38% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, a +58% increase versus 2017 (24%).
- The weekly podcast audience (26%) is up +73% from 2017 (15%).
- Podcast habituation is stable from the prior year. 68% of the monthly podcast audience have also listened in the past week, an +8% increase from 2017.
There will come a day when 90% of podcast monthly listeners also listen in the last week. It will take time. It took audio streaming 20 years to achieve these levels of habitation.
5. Podcasts’ tale of two cities: Persons 12-34 podcast audiences are down as the post-pandemic outdoors beckon while persons 35-54 audiences grow strongly
According to Edison Research’s “Share of Ear,” 74% of persons 13-34 podcast listening occurs at home. During the pandemic, persons 12-34 listening soared to 56% in 2021 as young demos sheltered at home. By January 2022, with COVID on the wane, persons 12-34 monthly podcast listening dipped to 50% while persons 35-54 listening grew.
6. The changing podcast audience profile: More female, older, and more diverse
A comparison of the audience profile from 2012 to 2022 reveals major shifts:
- More female: Ten years ago, the podcast audience was 55% male and 45% female. Today, the monthly podcast audience is more evenly split between men and women.
- Older: Since 2012, the persons 55+ proportion of the monthly podcast audience has grown from 14% to 20%. The persons 12-34 audience composition is down slightly 48% to 47%. The persons 35-54 audience composition has dropped from 38% to 33%. The podcast audience is spreading out.
- More diverse: The ethnic audience composition of monthly podcast listeners is up from 32% in 2012 to 41% in 2022. The Hispanic audience composition has surged from 10% to 16% over the ten-year period. The African American audience composition is up 14% to 16% over the same period.
- OMG TikTok: Explosive growth means audio content creators must prioritize the platform for audience engagement and marketing
- Smart speakers are more important than ever as an at-home distribution platform for radio broadcasters: 40% of smart speaker owners do not have a radio at home
- AM/FM radio buys should allocate 14% of budgets to the AM/FM radio stream and 84% to over-the-air AM/FM radio; After four years of stability, online audio experiences a significant listening surge
- Americans who have ever tried podcasting soars to a record 62% while monthly/weekly audiences dip slightly as younger demos reengage with activities away from home
- Podcasts’ tale of two cities: Persons 12-34 podcast audiences are down as the post-pandemic outdoors beckon while persons 35-54 audiences grow strongly
- The changing podcast audience profile: More female, older, and more diverse
Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media | Westwood One and President of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.