Edison Share of Ear 220

Broadcast radio continues to retain the largest share of audio listening of any media. Edison Research’s latest Share of Ear study shows 39% of all time spent listening to audio each day was with AM/FM. The fourth quarter 2020 number, based on a rolling four-quarter average, shows broadcasters have a share more than twice as large as streaming audio and more than four-times greater than satellite radio.

Podcasting has carved out a share for on-demand audio content in recent years, and Edison data shows it accounted for 6% of total audio listening time. “Podcasting has been one of the biggest growth stories,” said Edison Research Senior VP Tom Webster. “In 2014, podcasting was about 2% of our listening. Now it has tripled that,” he told the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting on Wednesday.

Overall, Edison said Americans spend an average 3 hours and 44 minutes per day listening to audio. “Since we started this project in 2014, the amount of time we spend listening to audio has been around four hours a day, even with the rise of streaming video taking so much of our time,” said Webster. “We tend to find moments and opportunities during the course of our day for audio.”

The numbers reflect an unusual period, with more Americans spending time at home due to the pandemic. Since AM/FM radio dominates in-car listening, not surprisingly its slice is smaller for at-home listening. Edison’s latest Share of Ear report pegs broadcast radio’s share at 31% for at-home. It remains out front, however, with a ten-point lead on streaming audio and more than twice the listening of either owned music or YouTube. Podcasting also sees a slight uptick, with its share rising to 7% for at home listening.

“Where we listen does have an impact,” said Webster. “AM/FM radio is the king of the car. At home, however, we see more digital audio sources come to prominence.”

“Home as the place where we listen to audio has increased a fair amount in 2020 compared to 2019, and that has accelerated some trends,” Webster told the IAB conference. “The pandemic has had an influence on our listening, but if anything, it has really just accelerated some trends that we have seen over the past few years that were happening anyway even before the pandemic.” He said one such trend is the emergence of spoken word audio comprising a more prominent part of what Americans are listening to. “Habits are habits, and when people go back to the office, we’re going to see a lot of these habits stick,” predicted Webster.

The Share of Ear data is compiled from participants who are given a diary which asks them to record their listening throughout the day in 15-minute increments, asking not only what platform they used, but the content consumed, and where they were located.