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Edison Research: The Infinite Dial 2020

| March 20, 2020

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — This 23rd annual survey of who’s-listening-to-what-and-how was derived from a telephone survey of 1,502 Americans age 12+, weighted to the USA population, and – important to note – conducted in January, before the Coronavirus pandemic disrupted habitual listening habits.  More on that in a minute.

Like yours truly, attending yesterday’s webinar, Edison’s Tom Webster and John Rosso from co-sponsor Triton Digital were self-quarantined at home.  If you missed it, a recording is available at EdisonResearch.com.

“Headlines,” from my notes:

  • Smartphone ownership: Growth has leveled-off. 85% of us, some 240 million tote one.
  • Tablet Ownership: 53%, 149M. Only Apple and Lenovo grew, others are down.
  • Smartwatch Ownership: flat year-to-year at 17%, 48M
  • Smart Speaker Ownership: 27%, 76M of which…and here comes what I consider The Big Idea…

Like Wal-Mart, radio is looking over its shoulder at Amazon.

First mover Amazon Echo is the queen of smart speakers.  21% surveyed own (at least) one; more than double Google Home’s 11% penetration, and Apple HomePod’s 1%.  See what’s coming?

  • Clue #2, and bear in mind this survey was BEFORE pandemic hoarding: 42% surveyed, 118 million of us, are Amazon Prime subscribers; a number sure to mushroom, with bare store shelves and the stay-home new normal. I love the free shipping, AND hundreds of movies and TV shows and great original video content…AND…
  • What else comes with an Amazon Prime membership? 14,000 SONGS. Just say “Alexa, play ‘Back in The USSR’ by The Beatles,” and she does.  And if you say, “Alexa, please play six commercials back-to-back,” you may be the first to ever ask.

Cling, if you will, to survey data that 58% of us have one-to-three AM/FM radios in-home.  But note, at the end of the presentation: “More than six in 10 Americans use some form of voice assistant technology.  It is incumbent upon content producers to ensure their content is easily retrievable through voice.”  Thus the importance of station “skills” (and the opportunity to sell the sponsored pre-roll, as my clients have).

What else competes for broadcast listeners’ attention?

  • “Social media usage has essentially stalled” over the past four years. Facebook is still #1, with biggest growth 35-54.  For 12-34s, Instagram is a strong #2.
  • Online audio (including station streams) “is now mainstream media.” 68% (192M) listen monthly; 60% (169M) stream weekly.  Among weekly users, Spotify is #1, Pandora #2, and when you peruse that chart note Amazon growth.
  • In-car, AM/FM radio remains “Used Most Often,” though it’s down to 50% (steadily, from 52% last year, 56% year-before, and 57% in 2017). As we move into new cars, new-tech dashboards will likely continue that trend…although IMHO the looming recession will likely chill new car sales.  45% already listen to music in-car via phone.
  • Podcasting? “Fairly significant growth” in monthly consumption: 37% = 104M (48% 12-34, people growing up without their elders’ AM/FM habit). Average weekly TSL: 6 hours 39 minutes.  Weekly podcasters average 6 per week.

That’s my short version.  Check-out the whole thing.  If you’re cooped-up at home, you probably have time.

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. His weekly Monday Memo column outlines strategy and tactics for stations and shows pertinent to listeners’ life changes during the Coronavirus pandemic.  And HC is the author of the e-book “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” from Talkers Books.  Click the ad banner in the right-hand column on this page for an instant download.  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT

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Category: Analysis