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For the first time since its Share of Ear study began tracking the growth of audio consumption in 2014, Edison Research says the total daily share of time spent listening on digital devices by those age 13+ in the U.S. has surpassed the share of time spent listening on traditional, more linear devices. 

Before the COVID-19 disruptions, 55% of the daily total share of time spent listening to audio by 13+ Americans was done on traditional, more linear devices, and 45% was done on digital devices. During second quarter 2020, 53% of the daily total share of time spent listening was on digital devices. 

 

The newly released data looks at listening by the type of device audio is consumed on, not by content providers. The “digital/on-demand” devices in the study include smartphones, computers, internet-connected televisions and smart speakers. The “traditional or non-linear devices” include AM/FM receivers, SiriusXM receivers, CD players, turntables or TV channels like Music Choice. 

The Share of Ear study requires respondents to keep a detailed daily diary of audio usage. The Q2 data was collected in mid-May, 2020. 

Edison says it marks the first time that the digital group of devices surpassed the more traditional forms of listening, as the digital group saw a substantial eight percentage point jump during the COVID-19 disruptions. Before this unique time, the digital total was slowly getting closer and closer to parity with the non-digital devices. Edison says the shift away from in-car and at-workplace listening to at-home listening led to these changes in how Americans access audio content.

“Digital surpassing non-digital was almost inevitable, according to the slow trend we saw in Share of Ear,” Edison Director of Research Laura Ivey said in a release announcing the new findings. “It appears that these disruptions may have just accelerated the process. We will have to wait to see if the numbers revert more closely to what they were before the disruptions.”

Edison makes most of its Share of Ear findings exclusive to subscribers. However the company says it is releasing several interesting data points for the audio industry to consider since the data provides insight into U.S. listener behavior during COVID-19 restrictions.