Nielsen 220

More people expect to spend more online audio time consuming podcasts than streaming radio or music services. A Nielsen custom survey of U.S. consumer sentiment toward streaming platforms shows 40% of those surveyed expect to spend more time consuming podcasts. That is roughly twice as many as those who plan to increase their listening to webcasts or ad-supported music services. A majority (54%) said they don’t expect a significant change in their podcast listening habits.

Half of those surveyed said they like the ability to download content and offline listening. But the most important attribute to streaming audio is how easy to use with nearly eight in ten crediting that as a reason why they consume online audio. “Let’s face it, after decades of relying on the nearly perfect and utilitarian design of a radio dial, audio consumers are used to accessing content in a seamless manner. When it comes to paid audio streaming, they demand the same ease of use,” the just-released Total Audience Report says.

Other important factors include the variety of content available and availability in the car. “Driving while listening to the radio remains one of the most smitten matches made in heaven between humans and technology. It’s no different with audio streaming,” the report says.

Nielsen’s survey looked at both audio and video and it says one of the biggest differences between the two is that the audio set places a greater emphasis on free, ad-supported services. “This is due in no small part to radio’s legacy as the original free audio medium,” Nielsen says.

Nevertheless some listeners do opt to pay for subscription versions of apps. Four in ten cited the ability to access content “on the go” or to avoid advertising as a reason they’d consider subscribing to additional paid audio services. But podcasts are a factor too. Nielsen says a quarter said they would consider subscribing to an audio service to access podcasts they can’t get otherwise.

The biggest reason for not paying for an audio service is the cost – it was mentioned by 46% of those surveyed – while 43% said they’re happy with the options they currently have. And nearly a third (31%) said there’s only so much content they can consume.

Peter Katsingris, SVP of Audience Insights at Nielsen, says we are now at a “streaming wars” flash point. “Direct-to-consumer streaming hasn’t just changed the way consumers engage with, choose, and pay for content. It has also upended the type of content they yearn for, lean into, and champion. Streaming video and audio has altered deeply ingrained habits and helped prompt consumers to do something unfathomable just a few years ago—expand their time spent with media,” he said. “With so much content available, consumers now spend about a day more per week engaged with it than they did just six years ago.”

Nielsen’s Total Audience Report shows that in the third quarter of 2019 the average American spent 11 hours and 32 minutes per week listening to broadcast radio. Another 54 minutes went to streaming audio, including podcasts. Broadcast radio reaches 92% of adults in the U.S. totaling 229 million listeners each week, according to Nielsen. Streaming audio reaches 25% of adults or 62 million listeners.

“That presents a significant marketing opportunity for providers and brands that respect individuals as consumers with unique spending, watching and listening habits,” Katsingris says.