Smart Audio Report shows smart speakers increasingly the go-to to access media

Edison Research and NPR’s 2022 Smart Audio Report, which looks at usage of voice technology in the U.S., finds that smart speakers are increasingly the go-to to gain access to media with 35% or 100 million Americans, 18+, now owning a smart speaker (up from 32% in 2021).

More than half (51%) of those looking to buy a smart speaker, said they want to replace an old radio (a 31% increase from 2017); 63% are using the tech for music discoverability (up 19% from 2017); while 47% are listening to podcasts via smart speaker (up 18% from 2017). 49% said they’re using the devices to entertain their kids (up 36% from 2017).

The share of time spent listening to audio through a smart speaker has increased 400% since 2017, according to Edison’s Share of Ear in Q1 2022.

A demographic breakdown of smart speaker owners shows those ages 45-54 are the biggest listener group at 28%, followed by those 65+ (21%).

The number of those using their smart speaker to listen to news is also up from 62% in Spring 2020 to 66%. Those listeners are also listening longer, with those tuning in three hours or more in a week, up from 32% in Spring 2020 to 34%.

The report finds that in general, usage of voice tech is increasing. 62% of Americans, 18+, are now using voice assistants across smart speakers, smartphones, TV remotes, in-car systems, computers/laptops, and tablets. Twenty per cent of smart speaker owners spend most of their audio time listening through a smart speaker, up from 18% in 2017.

Smart speaker owners are also relying on voice assistants to fulfill more tasks. In 2022, smart speaker owners requested an average of 12.4 tasks on their device per week, up from 7.5 in 2017. Smartphone voice assistant users requested an average of 10.7 tasks weekly, up from 8.8 in 2020.

53% of those surveyed wanted a smart speaker to control smart home devices, help an elderly person (30%) or person with a disability (24%). 86% of smart speaker owners agreed that the devices “allow for a more convenient living” with 90% agreeing that smart speaker interactions require a low level of effort.

The study also asked owners about privacy concerns. 47% of respondents said they had concerns about their smart speaker always listening, up from 28% in 2017, however the number of those worried about the government listening to private conversations has fallen from 48 to 43% over the past five years. 58% said they trust companies to keep their information secure.

The Smart Audio Report found, however, that overall interest in smart speaker tech is waning among non-smart speaker owners. Just nine per cent said they are “very likely” to buy one in the next six months with 62% “not at all likely” to purchase a voice-enabled speaker.

The report’s findings are based on a national online survey conducted earlier this year of over 1,000 U.S. adults, age 18+, who own a smart speaker; 560 U.S. adults,18+. who do not own a smart speaker but use voice assistants on other devices; and another 584 U.S. adults 18+ who do not use voice assistants.


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