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2016 Infinite Dial

| March 11, 2016

Smartphones drive ‘mainstreaming + mass-adoption of’ Internet audio; in-home AM/FM has ‘hardware concerns.’

TALKERS’ analysis of Edison Research/Triton Digital “Infinite Dial 2016” study

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


cookewriterBLOCK ISLAND, RI — Issued perennially since 1998, it’s “the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior,” tracking mobile, Internet radio, podcasting, and social media.

Edison VP/strategy & marketing Tom Webster and Triton president/market development John Rosso walked a well-attended webinar though a slide deck which you can download – free and in its entirety – here.  And if you work in AM/FM radio, you should.

In January and February, they surveyed 2,001 Persons 12+, “as representative of the USA population as possible.”  Grab the arm rest:

  • 76% of Americans 12 and older – some 207 million of us — now tote a smartphone. That’s up from 71% a year ago.  P25-54 it’s 84% (81% last year) and P12-24 it’s a staggering 93% (from 86%).
  • Time spent consuming media has grown from 7 hours 22 minutes per day in 2001 to 8 hours 47 minutes, “because of the smartphone” which “has re-written the media landscape.” Accordingly, Webster and Rosso rebut conventional wisdom that attention is getting scarce, and quip “We just have a short attention span for crap.”
  • Most people now listen to online audio. The estimated 155 million monthly cume is 57% of P12+; and weekly cume is 136M (50%).  Weekly Time Spent Listening is down slightly for the second year in a row, which these researchers surmise as new listeners adopting the habit.  “We’re about to cross 100 billion hours a week” of online listening.
  • Meantime, the number of AM/FM radios in-home has declined. 21% of all surveyed have NO receiver at home (4% in 2008).  Nearly 1/3 of Persons 18-34 have no radio at home.
  • In-car, radio remains the dominant audio device. “Audio Sources Used at Least ‘Most of the Times’ in Primary Car” by P18+:
  1. AM/FM Radio: 54%
  2. MP3 player/owned digital music: 15%
  3. CD player: 11%
  4. Satellite Radio: 11%
  5. Online radio: 8%
  • Pandora still is still the T-Rex of pure play streamers, all of which enjoy increased awareness since last year. Spotify has more-than-doubled in the last 2 years, and “clearly skews younger.”  And “YouTube use for music consumption is significant.”  66% discover new music there, just-behind 68% for radio.

“On-demand content is making the device irrelevant.”

iPad and other tablet ownership “has leveled off at about half of Americans.  We replace phones more often.”  And our anything/anywhere/anytime appetite has invaded the living room too:

  • 60% — 163 million – own an Internet connected TV (58% last year, 51% year-before).
  • 1/3 of the USA population has a Netflix subscription in the family AND watched it in the past week.
  • 51% subscribe to SOME video-on-demand service (i.e., Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu).
  • 37% used SOME on-demand video in the past week.

Add it all up: Those smartphone and no-radio-at-home numbers, and video on-demand consumption patterns, sure do nudge radio broadcasters toward upping the on-demand audio game.  “More Americans are finding more time every day to consume audio that is “lean-forward.’  As with video content, the tech is becoming invisible” and “social media is driving more and more listening.”

How much more?

P12+ % who’ve ever listened to a podcast: % who’ve listened to one this month: % who’ve listened to one this week:
2016 36% (estimated 98 million) 21% (57M) 13% (35M)
2015 33% 17% 10%
2014 30% 15% 8%
2013 27% 12% 7%

Note this shift: Of those who’ve ever listened to a podcast:

  • 64% listen on a portable device (smartphone, tablet), up from 55% last year.
  • 34% listen on a computer (42% last year).

Weekly podcast listeners listen to an average of 5 podcasts each week.

Consultant Conclusion for Content Creators: Get busy fashioning on-demand audio that fits on smartphones.  Do it right, and sales will throw you a parade.

Download the Infinite Dial 2016 study for more detail, including some useful data on social media.


Holland Cooke (www.HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke, and meet HC at Talkers 2016: Bridging the Generations at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on May 20.


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Category: Analysis