The smartphone may still be the place where the most podcast consumption is being done, but the personal nature of the medium is also finding some resonance in the automobile. The Edison Media/Triton Digital 2019 Infinite Dial study found 26% of U.S. adults say they listened to a podcast while in the car. That’s a one point increase from a year ago and a 7% increase versus the 2017 study.
“We see the real growth, the real change in podcasts,” said Tom Webster, senior VP, Edison Research. “That’s a fairly significant increase over the past two years and it might be a harbinger of things to come.”
Surveying those 90% of Americans 18+ who say they have driven or ridden in a car in the past month, a whopping 81% of respondents said they currently listen to traditional radio. In the past three years, that figure has remained steady, moving ever so slightly down from 82% in both 2017 and 2018. “We know that the share of time people listen to radio at home and work has shifted some, but in the car, things remain pretty stable,” Webster said during the Infinite Dial’s release presentation last week.
Radio listening is nearly twice as dominant as the second and third options: owned digital music, at 45%—which has remained steady for three years running—and then CDs, at 43%, which are rapidly eroding, down from 49% last year and 52% in 2017. Webster noted that this dip can at least partially be attributed to the fact that many new cars have stopped including an installed CD player in the dash. Online radio follows in frequency, at 28%, the same percentage as last year; and then podcasts, at 26%.
Podcasts More Of An In-Car Go-To
It may be that in-car habits are hard to break with a majority of adults saying they’re mostly listening to traditional AM/FM radio while in the car. But the Infinite Dial data shows podcasts have edged up a bit. Among those surveyed, 4% said podcasts were their most-often used audio source while either a driver or passenger. That’s up from 3% reported during the two prior studies. And while radio remains safely entrenched in the car, it is showing slight signs of erosion. Asked for the audio source most often used, 52% responded radio in 2019. That’s down four points versus a year ago.
Podcasting’s increase may be attributed to the nature of how podcast fans consume the media. Edison’s Share of Ear study found time spent listening to podcasts has more than doubled during the last four years. The study found that podcasts accounted for 3.9% of overall time spent with audio in 2018 among Americans aged 13 and older, compared to a 1.7% share in 2014—a 122% increase during the four-year span. And podcast listeners spent 28% of their audio time with the medium. “Once people get into it, they really get into it,” Edison president Larry Rosin said at the RAIN Podcast Business Summit last week.
It’s become easier than ever to access all forms of audio content through a smartphone while in the car. The data shows 41% of those 12+ responded to ever doing so. That number is actually down a smidge from the 42% reported last year. Smartphone listening in cars had previously steadily risen from 32% to 42% last year, although no one is yet ready to say the numbers have plateaued. But Webster noted, “Phones seem to have taken a pause here.”
Biggest Audio Brands Are Also Podcasters
Moving from in-car consumption to a look at specific audio brands in general, the study found that despite Pandora’s well-reported dip in listeners, it not only is tops in brand awareness, but leads in every Infinite Dial query regarding platforms most recently listened to as well as those most listened to, also across all demos. Pandora commands 89% brand awareness 12+, followed by iHeartRadio and Amazon Music, both 74%; Apple Music, 73%; Spotify, 71%; then a dip to 58% for Google Play All Access. NPR One has 22%, Entercom’s Radio.com has 21% and Tidal 15%.
Among brands listened to in the past month, Pandora again leads, at 30%, with Spotify at 24% and iHeartRadio at 13%, Apple Music and Amazon Music at 12% and SoundCloud at 11%.
Analyzing the numbers, John Rosso, president of market development of Triton Digital, said that every brand is “enjoying greater awareness than a year ago,” with the exceptions of Deezer and Slacker. The biggest trend of note is Spotify’s increase in monthly usage, to 24% in 2019, from 20% last year and 18% two years ago. Apple Music and Amazon Music also demonstrate notable increases, both at 12%, up from 8% and 6% two years ago, respectively. iHeart is steady, with 13% usage, just behind Pandora and Spotify in overall popularity.
YouTube continues to gain traction among consumers 12+. Fifty percent of those surveyed said they use YouTube weekly, up from 46%, 43% and 43%, respectively, over the past three years. In 2014, the figure was only 33%.
The platform is a young person’s preference: some 70% of those 12-34 have accessed it in the last week, while the figure drops to 51% for those 35-54, and dramatically down to a mere 24% for those 55+.
Infinite Dial data was collected from 1,500 telephone interviews 12+, across the U.S. in January/February 2019 by Edison Research, using random digit dialing to both cell phones and landlines.