It has been a year since Amazon Alexa devices began allowing users to create a “preferred podcast setting” and pick a provider like Apple, Spotify, iHeartRadio, or Pandora, as the skill that delivers podcast content to their smart speaker. But Spotify made that feature available only in the U.S. Now it is adding 11 additional countries where it aims to be the go-to skill for podcast fans that access content through Alexa.
The latest countries to be added to the list include Canada, Mexico, the U.K, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, India, and Austria. The reason for the delay appears to be a varied setup for the Amazon Alexa in different countries. The announcement noted that how people set up the feature is still different in Brazil, Mexico, Germany, and the U.K compared to elsewhere.
Smart speaker listening grew rapidly this year for Spotify. In its year-end wrap up it said its numbers show through the end of November, smart speaker listening to podcasts and music was up 61% compared to a year ago. Listening to streaming content on game consoles increased 55%. And desktop computer listening was up 28%.
Other podcasters are also making themselves available on Alexa. In August, Pandora announced it will allow users across all tiers of service to listen to podcasts on Alexa-enabled devices including Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show by using simple voice commands.
The biggest impact of the pandemic may turn out to be not what people are listening to, but how they are consuming that content. The latest Edison Research data shows that among those 18 and older, podcasting’s share of ad-supported audio on the smart speaker was 17% during the third quarter. Edison said Spotify’s ad-support service accounted for another 9% of time spent on smart speakers. By comparison AM/FM still leads with a 38% share of ad-supported audio time spent on the smart speaker, compared to 76% across all devices.
Edison Research says there has been a noteworthy increase in the number of smart speakers. In 2020, smart speaker households owned an average of 2.2 of the devices, up from an average of 1.7 two years ago.