Smart Audio Report

Newly released data from the latest Smart Audio Report delivers good news for broadcasters: the share of time spent listening to AM/FM radio on a smart speaker rose to 24% in 2019, up from 18% in 2018. The latest numbers are derived from Edison’s ongoing Share of Ear survey, which employs a 4,000-person national sample of persons 13+ and has been conducted online and offline since 2014.

With 77% share of ear, music dominates listening on smart speakers. Spoken word audio captures 23%. That parallels the break-out on all devices: 76% for music, 24% for spoken word audio.

The rapid adoption of smart speakers is helping spur what’s being called an audio renaissance.

Yet smart speaker owners spend more time listening to audio at home on their mobile device or on an AM/FM radio receiver, than via an Alexa or Google Home-type device. Citing Share of Ear data, the Smart Audio Report says smart speakers capture 17% of audio listening at home, compared to 31% for a mobile device and 19% for AM/FM receiver. Keep in mind that this is among the 60 million Americans that own a smart speaker. Computers came in fourth with 17% of audio listening by device at home, followed by TV audio channels (6%), internet-connected TV devices (5%) and CD players (2%).

The study also broke out share of time spent listening to audio sources on a smart speaker. Streaming audio captured nearly half (46%), followed by AM/FM radio in second at 24%, then owned music (10%), SiriusXM (8%) and podcasts (5%). Within the streaming piece of the smart speaker audio pie, Amazon captured the largest slice (15%), which isn’t surprising when you consider its Alexa devices currently dominate the smart speaker market in the U.S. Pandora was close behind with 12% followed by “other” at 10% and Spotify with 3%.

The Smart Speaker Habit

The Smart Audio Report, conducted by Edison in tandem with NPR, also includes data derived from a national telephone survey of 1,002 adults 18+ from Dec. 31, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020. While topline results were first presented during the 2019 VOICE Live event at CES in Las Vegas, Edison released additional findings Thursday. Among the 60 million people in the U.S. owning at least one smart speaker device, one third (33%) say they use the device several times a day. More than one in four device owners (27%) said they use them nearly every day, 21% at least once per week, and 8% once per month or less. Just over one in ten (11%) smart speaker owners say they never use them.

The data shows that 54% of the U.S. population has used some type of voice-command technology, such as voice assistants on smartphones, smart speakers and other devices. Of those who use voice assistants, 24% say they use the technology on a daily basis.

"This latest report again shows the steady growth in smart speakers and the substantial use of voice activation across platforms," said NPR CEO John Lansing. "NPR sees these increases reflected in the continuing growth of listening to NPR radio streams and podcasts on smart speakers. We're eager to see that growth continue."

As earlier reported by Inside Radio, 24% of the U.S. population owns at least one smart speaker, up from 21% in December 2018, 18% in December 2017 and just 7% in January 2017. Not only are an increasing number of American households adopting smart speakers, but the research shows households that utilize the technology currently own 2.6 such devices, up from 2.3 per household at the same time last year and only 1.7 in 2017. Indeed the number of smart speakers in U.S. households has grown by 135% in two years, from 67 million in December 2017 to 119 million in December 2018 to 157 million in December 2019.

Awareness of smart speakers jumped from to 84% in December 2019, up from 77% in December 2018, 75% in December 2017 and 62% in December 2017.