Triton Digital

As smart speakers become a fixture in more U.S. households, the amount of listening to AM/FM radio streams on the devices is on a solid upward trajectory. The percent of listening to the streams of U.S.-based commercial broadcasters taking place on smart speakers rose to 17% in October 2019 from 11% one year earlier, according to new data provided to Inside Radio by Triton Digital. At the same time, total listening hours to commercial radio streams increased 6.8% in October 2019 vs. a year ago.

While listening to AM/FM streams on smart speakers is growing, mobile remains the dominant platform, accounting for half of streaming listening in October 2019, unchanged from one year earlier. Smart speaker listening growth is coming from both new listening and from listening migrating over from desktops, laptops and other devices (classified as “other” by Triton). The percentage of streaming listening to commercial radio happening on “other” devices fell year over year, from 39% to 33%.

“Listening on both mobile and smart speaker devices is growing, while everything else in hard numbers actually went down a little bit,” Triton President of Market Development John Rosso told Inside Radio. “Smart speaker is the only device family whose contribution is increasing at a time when the overall consumption is increasing,” Rosso said. “It’s safe to assume there is a considerable amount of new consumption happening on smart speakers.”

If the 2019 holiday season produces a spike in smart speaker sales like it did last year, radio listening on the devices could see another bump in December 2019 and January 2020. “Numerically, December 2018 grew a lot over November 2018; and January 2019 grew a lot over December 2018,” Rosso points out.

The Triton numbers reflect only listening to commercial radio streams. At public radio the percent of streaming listening happening on smart speakers is even higher. According to NPR, 25% of station streaming is now happening on voice platforms. “We’re not seeing declines in other places so we’re thinking it’s pretty additive,” says Tamar Charney, Managing Director, Personalization and Curation, NPR. “These devices really are being used to consume traditional linear radio streams.”