BLOCK ISLAND, R.I. — It was like telling the punch line at the beginning of the joke, when Edison Research VP/Strategy & Marketing Tom Webster began a well-attended webinar: “It’s hard to overstate the impact of the smartphone on the American consumer.”
“The Infinite Dial 2014” is #22 in an ongoing series researching consumer adoption of digital media. As Webster and Mike Agovino — COO of Triton Digital, which sponsored the study – narrated their presentation, they had plenty of good news for radio broadcasters. But the undeniable headline was that those who merely feed audio to transmitters aren’t fishing where the fish are swimming to.
Among data presented, based on a just-released survey of 2023 Americans P12+:
61% of Americans – an estimated 160 million — now own a smartphone. That’s 500% growth in 5 years. Eight-in-ten P18-34.
“People spend 1.2 hours a day in-car.” Only 8% surveyed have those new-tech, in-dash infotainment systems in their primary car. But online radio listening in-car via cell phone continues its steady increase.
- In 2014: 26% of all cell phone owners surveyed do (21% in 2013)
- P12-24: 43%
- P25-54: 27%
- P55+: 10%
In ratings parlance, online radio cume and TSL are up.
“Listened to online radio in the last month:” 47%, 124 million P12+ (45% in 2013)
- 75% of 12-24
- 50% of 25-54
- 21% of 55+
“Listened to online radio in the last week:” 36%, 94 million P12+ (33% in 2013)
- 64% 12-24
- 37% 25-54
- 13% 55+
Time Spent Listening per week to “all sources of online radio:”
- 2014: 13:19 hours
- 2013: 11:56
- 2008: 6:13
Which online radio? In the past month, P12+ listened to:
- Pandora: 31%
- iHeartRadio: 9%
- iTunes Radio: 8% (impressive, considering it launched in September)
- Spotify: 6%
- Google Play All Access: 3%
- Rhapsody: 2%
- Slacker: 2%
- TuneIn Radio: 2%
What they’re listening to via iHeartRadio?
- Local area AM/FM stations: 54%
- AM/FM stations outside the local area: 39%
- Customized stations: 32%
- Internet-only stations by music genre: 25%
More than half of iHeartRadio users using smartphones to stream local broadcast stations affirms broadcasters’ hopeful surmise that smartphones are what many have termed “the new transistor radio.”
Why? It’s obvious that more people now tote smartphones than portable radios. And this study offers a finding that should be welcome news to AM stations, which have signal issues, and whose entire band now accounts for only some 20% of TSL: A majority of online radio listeners say its sound quality is better than AM/FM radio:
- “Better audio quality:” 56% of weekly online radio listeners
- “About the same:” 21%
- “Don’t know:” 11%
- Online radio has “worse sound quality” than AM/FM: 9%
Broadcasters will also take comfort that “AM/FM radio dominates in-car media.” Percent of in-car P18+ who currently use:
- AM/FM radio: 86%
- CD player: 61%
- MP3 player/owned digital music: 31%
- Satellite radio: 17%
- Online radio: 14%
And with music radio criticized for repetitive “safe” playlists, compared to more eclectic Internet radio options, AM/FM is still tops in what’s now termed “music discovery.” Percent who use each source “to keep up-to-date with music:”
- AM/FM radio: 75%
- Friends/family: 66%
- YouTube: 59%
- Pandora: 48%
- Facebook: 39%
- Music television channels: 33%
- Information/displays at local store: 30%
- Apple iTunes: 30%
- SiriusXM Satellite Radio: 20%
- iHeartRadio: 18%
- Music blogs: 14%
- Spotify: 14%
But 12-24s find their new music on YouTube (#1, 83%). Friends/Family and Pandora tied for #2 @ 71%; AM/FM 65%.
Other data points detailed in the research summary, which you can download, free and in its entirety, at www.HollandCooke.com:
- “Vast majority say commercials are a fair price to pay for free audio content.” 80% of weekly AM/FM listeners, and 75% of weekly online radio listeners.
- While 69% acknowledge that AM/FM has more commercials than Internet audio, “commercials are more relevant to you” on AM/FM (44%) than Internet audio (32%).
- While smartphones are tantamount to portable radio (to 66% of weekly online listeners), desktop/laptop computers use remains as-high (67%). This seems to affirm the value of promo-ing station streams for listen-at-work.
- As for waking-up that long-rumored iPhone FM sleeper chip? It’d help! Adding “listen a lot more than you listen now” + “listen a little more” = 33% of P12+ and 49% of the P12-24s radio fears losing.
- 2/3 of P12+ have a profile on a social networking site. And if you think Facebook is so-last-year…think again.
- Sales reps: Show new car dealers page 32: “Many in the car-buying market say having in-dash system is Very/Somewhat Important.”
- Tablet growth continues: 17% in 2012, 29% in 2013, 39% in 2014. iPad is #1.
- For the first time, more than half own an Internet-connected TV.
- Podcasting consumption is at an all-time high. 39 million have listened to audio-on-demand in the past month. Average consumption: 6 podcasts per week.
- “Major shift in podcast listening devices:” In 2013: 64% listened on computers, 34% on smartphone/tablet/portable audio player. 2014: 51% smartphone/tablet/portable audio player, 46% computer.
Grab the download, then order pizza, and discuss opportunities you’ll spot.
Holland Cooke is a media consultant working at-the-intersection-of radio and the Internet. Meet HC at Talkers New York 2014 on Friday, June 20. And follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke