Edison Share of Ear

Radio continues to dominate in-car listening, according to fresh Share Of Ear data from Edison Research. Among those 13+ who listen to audio in a vehicle, the majority of time (58%) is spent listening through a traditional AM/FM radio receiver. That’s nearly triple the amount of time with the No. 2 device – mobile, which captures 21% of in-car listening. Third place belongs to a satellite receiver with 16%, followed a CD player at 4%.

As with most media behaviors, the results vary significantly based on the age of the consumer. Gen Z listeners (age 13-24) spend around twice the average time listening through a mobile device in-car: 43% compared with 21% for those age 13+. But traditional AM/FM radio narrowly takes the top spot for in-car listening device for Gen Z at 48%.

“This might come as a surprise for everyone who knows that Gen Z listeners prefer mobile phones for audio listening overall, and they do,” Edison says in its latest Weekly Insights. “But the in-car environment is different, and young listeners spend almost half of their in-car listening time with an AM/FM radio receiver.”

Listeners age 25-54, the demo most sought after by radio broadcasters, spend over half their in-car listening time with traditional AM/FM radio (55%), 26% with a mobile device, and 14% with satellite.

When AM/FM and satellite are grouped together as “radio,” then those age 25-54 spend 69% of their in-car listening time with radio receivers.

Satellite posts its best numbers with those age 55+, who spend 23% of their in-car listening with a satellite receiver. That helps explain why SiriusXM is working to diversify its user base via streaming. When combined with traditional AM/FM radio (66%), those age 55+ spend 89% of their in-car listening time with a radio receiver. This group spends five percent of their in-car audio time with a mobile device.

With automakers excluding CD players from new vehicles for several years now, it should come as no surprise that CD players are hanging on in the low single digits for time spent listening in-car for all demos.

Edison closes its analysis of the new in-car listening data with this caveat: “Keep in mind that one shouldn’t assume that the driver is making the audio choices in-car for everyone, since it is plausible that a parent could be in the front seat, for example, while a child is listening on their mobile phone through earbuds,” it says. “One also can’t assume that only one thing can be listened to in the car at one time. Regardless, though, what we see here is that radios dominate the in-car listening experience overall.”