Infinite Dial finds AM/FM still king in the car, casual podcast listeners eroding

AM/FM Radio is still king in the car, TikTok’s meteoric rise continues, and the casual podcast audience has eroded as younger listeners go back to school and work, according to the latest Infinite Dial, the longest-running survey of consumer digital behaviour in the U.S.

Presented by Tom Webster, SVP, Edison Research, live from Podcast Movement in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning, the 24th annual survey was conducted in early January, tapping a sample of 1,502 Americans, 12+.

Among the survey’s findings are that the presence of physical radios in the home is in sharp decline. 39% of Americans no longer have a home radio, up from 32% in 2020.

“That story is getting starker and starker, especially on the young end,” explained Webster. “If you look at 12-34 year olds, 57% say they do not have a radio in their home. Of course, it’s not the easiest thing to do to walk into a Best Buy and purchase a radio – good luck with that.”

As Webster pointed out, that doesn’t mean those consumers can’t access AM/FM content, with smart speaker ownership up slightly from 33 to 35% of the U.S. population and the number of households with a secondary smart speaker growing from 19 to 26%. About 25% of the population own neither a radio or smart speaker, with 21% owning both.

Infinite Dial found 209 million or 73% of Americans had listened to some form of online audio in the last month, up from 68% in 2021, with significant growth in older demos. Monthly listening in the 35-54 demo shot up from 72 to 81% year-over-year, while listening with those over 55 increased from 46 to 52%. Weekly online listening grew from 62 to 67% or 192 million Americans.

Online audio brand awareness is led by Spotify (82%) and Pandora (79%), followed by Apple Music (72%). Of services listened to in the last month, Spotify leads with (35%), with 31% using the service weekly. YouTube Music has also made gains in the space with 23% saying they use the service monthly and 20% weekly.

“All of these platforms are going to increasingly be important to you,” Webster told the Podcast Movement audience. “The platforms that are not necessarily bespoke and made for podcasting, but they are where you are going to find the people and put success in your way by getting your content in front of those people, wherever they are, is going to be key to growing this industry.”

In-car media

AM/FM radio continues to be the default choice in-car with 73% of the population, down from 81% in 2020.

Use of owned digital music made gains, up at 53% from 48% the previous two years, followed by the CD player, which still claims 35% of in-car audio listening. Online audio saw a slight decline, dropping from 33 to 32%. The survey found the number of those with in-dash integrated entertainment tech in their vehicles is growing slowly – up to 22% of Americans from 20% last year, led by Apple Car Play at 17%. Those listening to online audio using their cel phone in-car was static among those surveyed, down one per cent from 50% in 2021 to 49%.

Podcast listening

Approximately 177 million or 62% of Americans have now listened to a podcast, up from 57% in the last survey.

“That’s a big jump. I think that is certainly again one of those pandemic lockdown influenced numbers when we we all finished Tiger King at the beginning of the pandemic and were trying new things,” said Webster, who added that this year’s results are heavily influenced by casual podcast listeners in the space.

Last year, monthly podcast listening jumped to 41%, up from 37% in 2020, which Webster describes as a “pandemic enhanced” bump.

The 2022 survey saw a monthly listening correction to 38% as people returned to school and work. Webster says while the space is continuing to grow, the demo most impacted by pandemic lockdowns was those 12-34. That affect on listeners was evidenced by growth in both smartphone and in-car podcast listening in Q4 2021. The finding is also backed up by Share of Ear data, showing that podcast listening rounded up to 6% of total audio listening in 2020, before nudging back down to 5% last year.

While monthly podcast listening was down from 56 to 50% with those 12-34, and fell from 26 to 22% with listeners 55+, listenership grew among those 25-54, up at 43% from 39% in 2021.

Weekly podcast listening dropped from 28 to 26% year-over-year, with weekly podcast listeners averaging eight episodes per week.

Social media

Social media usage was flat at 82% year-over-year. The survey underlined the continued rise of TikTok, which is now the third most-used social media platform, behind Facebook and Instagram.

Despite people saying they’re leaving the platform, Facebook is still being used by 180 million Americans, and remains the dominant social platform, jumping from 62 to 63% usage year-over-year. The survey found Snapchat and Twitter both experienced some user erosion.

This year’s survey also tracked social audio for the first time, finding that just one to two per cent of the population is using apps like Twitter Spaces, Spotify Greenroom and Clubhouse.


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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessenhttps://broadcastdialogue.com
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email - corrections@broadcastdialogue.com

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