Nielsen Total Audience Cover 220

Streaming audio users spent an average of one hour and 57 minutes each week listening to online content on smartphones and tablets during the third quarter of 2020 according to Nielsen’s just-released Total Audience Report. As would be expected the data – which reflects both streaming music and spoken word content like podcasts – shows younger demos dedicated the most time to online audio listening. 

Nielsen says among 18- to 34-year-olds, the average streaming user spent 2 hour and 49 minutes consuming digital content each week listening on a phone or tablet. That is more than twice the 1 hour and 8 minutes that people aged 65 and older spent. The data shows a slight difference between 35- and 49-year-olds – who spent 1 hour and 49 minutes with streaming audio, and 50- to 64-year-olds – who spent 1 hour and 27 minutes each week.

The data reveals that for all the gains made by streaming, it is still a distant second to broadcast radio whose listeners tune in for more than 12 hours per week on average. Even among the most digitally savvy young adults, there is still a wide gap with 18- to 34-year-olds spending nearly nine and a half hours a week listening to AM/FM radio.

Looked at another way, Nielsen says streaming audio reached 56% of all adults aged 18 and older weekly via a smartphone during the third quarter of 2020. And 17% of tablet users. 

Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 71% listened to streaming audio on their smartphone and 17% listened using a tablet.

Rates were slightly lower among older demos. Among 35- to 49-year-olds, 63% listened to audio through their phone and 18% listened using a tablet. And among those 50- to 64-year-old, phone listening slipped to 50% and tablet listening was 16%. Even among those aged 65 and older, Nielsen says 36% listened to streaming audio using their smartphone. 

Among ethnic groups, streaming audio’s reach on tablets was the highest among Asian Americans with one in five listening to a streaming service. Whites ranked second at 17% with streaming audio’s reach among both Blacks and Hispanics at 16% across all age groups.

On smartphones 60% of both Blacks and Hispanics listened to streaming audio, compared to 58% for Asians and 55% for Whites.

In comparison, Nielsen says broadcast radio’s reach was 88% across all age groups although it was even higher among 35- to 64-year-olds.

How Trusted Are Podcast Ads?

Podcast advertising had solid scores on the trustworthiness scale, especially among consumers under the age of 50. Nielsen says 54% of 35- to 49-year-olds said podcast ads are either “very” or “somewhat” trustworthy. And 50% of 18- to 34-year-olds said the same. Older Americans, who have been slower to embrace podcasts, are not quite as trusting of what they hear. Only 28% of people aged 50 and older label podcast ads as trustworthy. But on a positive note a majority (51%) said they are neutral, giving the industry an opportunity to convert them.

While trustworthy ratings for podcast ads were roughly on par with streaming music services, the other audio medium – broadcast radio – had an edge over its digital cousins. That was especially true among people age 50 and older. It was also true among younger demos too as 60% of adults 35-49 and 54% of adults 18-34 consider radio spots “very” or “somewhat” trustworthy.

“For consumers, legacy platforms such as radio and TV still command the highest share of collective trust in advertising,” the Nielsen report says. “To marketers this should come as no shock, considering that the decades-old mediums have been constant companions in family rooms and automobiles a lot longer than more nascent technology.”

The consumer findings are based on the Nielsen Advertising Across Media Consumer Survey. The English-only survey was conducted online Feb 2-17 and is based on a sample of 1,500 adults aged 18 and older who consume media across TV, radio, or digital devices.

The streaming audio numbers are based on Nielsen Total Media Fusion data. It included data from ten weeks during the months of July-September 2020. 

Download the full Nielsen Total Audience Report HERE.