The Return of “Relax”

by Edison Research President Larry Rosin

With the resurgence of Soft AC radio stations has come the revival of a word that had been all but banished from broadcast radio: “Relaxing.

Coming in with all the “Breeze” stations and their cousins are slogans like “Relaxing Favorites at Work,” and “Lite Relaxing Favorites.”  Stations are once again touting the “user benefit” of relaxation. 

What’s interesting about these stations grabbing hold of ‘the R word’ is that it was once heavily used by many stations, in particular those that were once the Soft ACs in their markets.  These powerhouses, now almost all positioned as “Mainstream AC” (think KOIT, WLTW, WBEB, and many others) made the move away from “relaxing” and it was almost assuredly the right thing for them to do.

Research performed that guided these stations away from “relaxing” showed convincingly that their listeners preferred both the music and the message geared around some form of “picks you up and makes you feel good.”  Music that makes the workday fly by faster.  While few people flatly rejected the word “Relaxing,” the research for these stations consistently showed they would be in a stronger place highlighting a more upbeat ‘mood service.’

It’s worth noting that ten years ago many markets also had “Smooth Jazz” stations providing relaxing music in competition with those Soft ACs.  Those are almost all long gone, meaning the “softest place on the dial” position was wide open.

The rather rapid success of some of the stations that have launched into the “relaxing”, sort of old-school Soft AC position has caught many industry observers by surprise.  Part of the success is surely related to just how far some of the “Mainstream AC” stations had traveled from any kind of relaxation mood service.  There were some people still listening to legacy brands who had been taken to a place a bit too contemporary and upbeat, and they are happy to have a place that delivers a slower pace and intensity.  Without doubt the formatics of the new Soft ACs are PPM-friendly and most launched with particularly light spot loads. 

To the above explanations I will add a further observation – maybe this is a format just made for these times.  The research work we do relating to news and opinion these days expose us to an enormous number of people who are simply exhausted by the news cycles, what they see and hear from Washington, and tense situations around the world.  People across the political spectrum are stressed out.  In blows a station called “The Breeze,” or “The Sound,” providing familiar favorites that soothe instead of stress.  Who isn’t looking for THAT kind of mood-service these days?

About Edison Research:
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, and Univision. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the space.  Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.

The Infinite Dial 2019

Podcasting and Audiobooks Both Attain 50% Reach; Facebook Usage Continues to Drop

Edison Research and Triton Digital reveal results of The Infinite Dial 2019

Podcasting shows explosive year-over-year growth as gains in spoken-word audio mark the 2019 Infinite Dial Study by Edison Research and Triton Digital®. Among the U.S. population ages 12 and older, the total number of people who have ever listened to a podcast passes 50% for the first time.

“This is a watershed moment for podcasting–a true milestone. With over half of Americans 12+ saying that they have ever listened to a podcast, the medium has firmly crossed into the mainstream,” noted Tom Webster, Senior Vice President at Edison Research.

One-third of the population reported having listened to a podcast in the last month, representing 90 million monthly listeners. The spoken-word audio sector also saw increases with audiobooks, as the portion of the U.S. population that has ever listened to an audiobook surpasses one-half for the first time.

“It’s a pleasure to once again partner with Edison Research for another insightful presentation of media usage and consumption in the U.S.” said John Rosso, President of Market Development at Triton Digital.

Regarding social media, the latest study finds the number of current users of Facebook continues to drop. The study shows an estimated 15 million fewer users of Facebook than in the 2017 report. The declines are heavily concentrated among younger people.

Other findings include:

–More than half the U.S. population now reports having used YouTube specifically for music in last week. This number is now 70% among 12-34-year-olds.

–The percentage of Americans who listen to online audio (defined as listening to AM/FM radio stations online and/or listening to streamed audio content available only on the internet) has doubled since 2012, growing from one-third of the population to two-thirds.

–Time spent listening to online audio has reached a record high this year, with weekly online audio listeners reporting an average of nearly 17 hours of listening in the last week.


The 2019 Infinite Dial is the latest report in a series dating back to 1998 that covers consumer usage of media and technology, has tracked many new mediums as they develop. The Infinite Dial currently provides the latest research in U.S. digital audio, mobile, smart speakers, podcast consumption, and social media.

The Infinite Dial study uses the “gold standard” of nationally representative survey research—a random probability telephone sample, comprising both mobile phones and landlines, of all Americans ages 12 and older. The study has become the report card on digital audio and other digital media and is widely used and quoted by broadcasters, Internet radio, ad agencies, and the financial community.

Please visit the links below to download the entire study and to watch a recording of the online presentation.

Download the Infinite Dial 2019


View the recording of The Infinite Dial 2019 presentation here.


How the study was conducted:
A total of 1,500 persons were interviewed to explore Americans’ use of digital platforms and new media. From January 3rd through February 4th, 2019, telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older who were selected via Random Digit Dial (RDD) sampling through both landline phones and mobile phones. The survey was offered in both Spanish and English. Data was weighted to national 12+ U.S. population estimates.

About Edison Research:
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, and Univision. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the space.  Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.

About Triton Digital:
Triton Digital® is the global technology and services leader to the digital audio and podcast industry. Operating in more than 40 countries, Triton provides innovative technology that enables broadcasters, podcasters, and online music services to build their audience, maximize their revenue, and streamline their day-to-day operations. In addition, Triton powers the global online audio industry with Webcast Metrics®, the leading online audio measurement service.  With unparalleled integrity, excellence, teamwork, and accountability, Triton remains committed to connecting audio, audience, and advertisers to continuously fuel the growth of the global online industry. Triton Digital is a wholly owned subsidiary of The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP). For more information, visit www.TritonDigital.com.

On-Site Insights: The Edison Research Digital Out-Of-Home Study

Just released: New DOOH study from Edison Research

With more and more Americans subscribing to ad-free content and blocking online advertising, brands are finding it increasingly challenging to reach consumers with even the most relevant information. One channel that remains strong, however, is digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising. Until someone invents glasses that block advertisements, DOOH will continue to be a compelling and effective means to disseminate brand messages.

In order to measure the value of digital out-of-home, Edison Research conducted a national online survey of 1,013 Americans, ages 18+, to gauge their recall and perceptions of DOOH advertising in the places where they work, shop, eat, and travel. Approximately two-thirds of Americans (65%) say that they recall seeing an out-of-home digital video display in the last month in any of the 20 different locations listed. The study found that the highest recall for these screens were in locations where they could immediately influence a transaction such as gas stations, convenience stores, malls, and retail stores. Nearly a quarter of Americans also noted that they had seen a display in the last month at a café or quick service restaurant, which is indicative of just how rapidly this channel is becoming more commonplace, especially with the growing number of digital menus installed by some of America’s largest food service companies.

Which locations have the highest recall?

Some of the most fascinating data in this study are the recall of DOOH displays in various locations by people who have actually visited those locations. For example, while the net percentage of Americans who recall seeing digital video displays in an airport is relatively low, that is more a function of the fact that most people haven’t visited an airport in the last month. But when you look only at people who have visited each location, airports lead the way in recall, at 74%. In fact, the top locations by recall (airports, sporting events, and movie theaters) all offer truly captive audiences making these locations particularly effective for delivering a message. Of course, the power of DOOH advertising is that it is designed to capture the attention of consumers who are literally in transit, and we observed high recall of these screens not only at the airport but also at train stations (50%) and waiting areas for public transportation (32%).

The benefit of asking about each individual out-of-home venue is that we can create audience profiles for each location. Location-specific demographics and perceptions of digital video displays are available upon request.

How do consumers react to digital video displays?

Of course, recall alone is not enough–DOOH displays have to actually work! And, in fact, they do–46% of Americans 18+ who recalled seeing a display in the past month agree that digital video displays are a good way to learn about products and services, while more than a third (35%) take the sentiment a step further and agree that these displays are “engaging.” Finally, people take action subsequent to engaging with DOOH displays. One-third of those who recall seeing an ad on a digital display in the past month say that they have sought out more information about a product as a result of that interaction, while 29% say they have recommended a product they had seen advertised on a DOOH display to a friend or family member.

How do we continue to measure DOOH effectiveness?

We anticipate that DOOH advertising will continue to grow for these reasons and more, especially as new technology continues to improve the interactivity and contextual relevance of the content being served to digital video displays. Of course, if it isn’t measurable, it isn’t useful. Edison’s unique expertise in the science of exit polling and America’s most extensive network of trained out-of-home researchers give us the ability to deliver quantitative and qualitative metrics for all manner of DOOH displays and in literally any location imaginable. For more information on our capabilities or more on our On-Site Insights research, contact info@edisonresearch.com.

Access the full On-Site Insights from Edison Research report here.

Parents, Teens, and Country Music: Edison Presents at CRS 2019

Today Edison Research’s Larry Rosin, Megan Lazovick and Laura Ivey presented a brand new research study, “Understanding Parents, Teens, and Country Music.” This special presentation, commissioned by Country Radio Seminar (CRS) for their 50th anniversary, looks at both the present and the future of Country, radio, and how music gets passed down…and up.

This comprehensive study is based upon both a national survey of parents and teens, and also video ethnography of how these two very important groups interact with music, the radio, and each other. Among the presentation highlights are the following:

  1. Nearly half of teenagers say that music is a “bonding activity” with their parents.
  2. 60% of teens who listen to Country Music say their parents have gotten them to listen more to Country Music.
  3. According to Edison’s industry-leading Share of Ear® study, AM/FM radio remains the top platform for teens, with 63% of 13-19 year-olds listening to radio every day.

To view the presentation visit: https://app.customshow.com/slideshow/pn41bf

About Country Radio Seminar: Country Radio Seminar is an annual convention designed to educate and promote the exchange of ideas and business practices in the Country music industry, with specific emphasis on issues relevant to Country radio. Country Radio Seminar 2019 is set for Feb. 13-15, 2019 at the Omni Hotel. Visit www.CountryRadioSeminar.com for more information. Like CRS on Facebook and follow CRS on Twitter(Hashtag #CRS50).

The 2019 Infinite Dial – Save the Date

Infinite Dial title slide

Please save the date for the 2019 Edison Research/Triton Digital Infinite Dial webinar, which will take place on Wednesday, March 6th, at 2 PM Eastern. We will be streaming the results live online, and the complete presentation will be available at edisonresearch.com and tritondigital.com subsequent to the webinar.

The Infinite Dial remains the longest-running study of consumer behaviors around media and technology in America. This year, we will continue to measure a number of trends in media usage and consumption habits, particularly about streaming media, radio, mobile media consumption, and social media behaviors, and we have expanded our podcasting and smart speaker sections. Attendees will learn how the streaming audio landscape has changed, which social media platforms are growing, and how smart speaker ownership is trending. The webinar will be hosted by Tom Webster, Senior Vice President, Edison Research and John Rosso, President, Market Development of Triton Digital.

Click to register and view the Infinite Dial 2019!