Edison Research’s 10 for ’20

Welcome to Edison Research’s 10 for ’20. It’s like a Top 10 List for 2020, but better — because we know 2020 doesn’t warrant a standard Top 10 List.

Despite the circumstances of quarantine, we were fortunate enough to continue to do market research projects and talk to thousands of people about their audio habits, their views on the economy, and their voting choices as well. We had to revise some of our research methods, particularly when it came to the work of exit polls, and we had to embrace working remotely, but we have 2021 in the sights, so we are thrilled to bring you these findings.

The three defining news stories of 2020 were the global pandemic from Covid-19, the U.S. presidential election, and a time of racial awakening and reckoning across the country. Those three wound their way through all of our research this year, which is one of the reasons our 10 for ‘20 list is impossible to present in rank order.

Here are our biggest findings from 2020, presented by various members of our Edison Research team, in an order that tells the story of this momentous year. Below each finding you will find links to the cited studies that you can explore for more information.

U.S. audio consumption changed as a result of COVID-19
Source: Share of Ear Listening Location, Share of Ear Audio Day Starts Later
Listening location changed dramatically in second quarter with 70% of total listening taking place at home, down from 49% pre-quarantine.Third quarter saw some listening shift away from home, with 59% of total listening taking place at home. Americans’ audio day started later as quarantine restrictions began. Before the pandemic, half of all respondents in Share of Ear had recorded some type of audio consumption by 7:15. During the quarantine restrictions of second quarter, that time shifted forward by 75 minutes so that half of respondents had recorded some type of audio consumption by 8:30. In third quarter, that time had only bounced back to 8:15am.

100 Million Americans listen to Podcasts Monthly
Source: The Infinite Dial 2020 with Triton Digital
While we still haven’t hit ‘peak’, this is the year where podcasting hit over 100 million monthly listeners. After years of single-digit growth, that’s more than a 40% increase in a two year period. Compared to the explosive growth of monthly podcast listening in the last five years from 21% of the US population in 2016 to 37% in 2020, monthly Twitter usage has essentially stayed the same 17% of the US population in 2016 and 17% in 2020. That means today, well over twice as many people listen to a podcast every month than use Twitter monthly.

25% of U.S. Latinos Listen to Podcasts Monthly; many are new to the medium
Source:The Latino Podcast Listener Report with Adonde Media, Lantigua Williams and Company, Libsyn, NPR, and Pandora
Listenership among Latinos is poised to grow as their awareness of the medium increases, and this growth may have already started. Over half of Latino podcast listeners started listening just within the last year. There are big differences between Language Dominant groups, with Spanish-language dominant listeners being more likely to have come to the medium within the last six months. Latinos have significantly been contributing to the expansion of podcasting already. The industry will have a better chance at maintaining this momentum if they take time to understand this group.

Spoken Word’s share of audio listening increased 30% over the past six years, 8% in the last year; growth driven by women, African-Americans, Latinos and 13-34-year-olds
Source: The Spoken Word Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research
2020 was a good year for Spoken Word audio, including sports talk and play-by-play, talk and personality audio programming, and audiobooks. The share of time spent listening to spoken word audio in the U.S. increased by 30% in the past six years, and 8% in the just the last year. The highest levels of growth are coming from women, African-Americans, Latinos and 13-34-year-olds. In addition to the convenience and multitasking benefits of spoken word audio, listeners tuned in for personal growth, better content, and the positive effects on mental health.

55% of Gen Z listeners are reached by AM/FM radio every day
Source: Radio’s Roadmap to Gen Z Listenership with Front Row Insights and Strategy
Our study shows that 55% of all Gen Zs listen to AM/FM radio each day, so they recorded at least some radio listening into their Share of Ear diary. This just surpasses our estimate for streaming. In an environment where radio people are constantly hearing that no young people listen to the radio anymore, this is powerful proof that it is not the case. More than half said they listen every day. Of the time spent listening to all audio among 13-24 year-olds, 22% of it goes to AM/FM radio.

60 million Americans now own a smart speaker, and usage increased during quarantine
Source: The Smart Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research
Twenty-four percent of people in the U.S own at least one smart speaker – around 60 million people. Over one-third of U.S. adult smart speaker owners say they are using their device more to listen to music and entertainment since the outbreak – and younger Americans, those 18-34-year-olds, are even more likely to turn to the device for a diversion – a little over half – or 52% — of young Americans said they are using smart speaker for music and entertainment since the pandemic started.

Over half of U.S. Moms agree they are spending a lot time helping their children with distance learning; Moms much more likely to be the primary person responsible for helping
Source: Source: Moms and Media 2020, Marketplace-Edison Research Poll

Fifty-four percent of moms agree they are spending a lot of time helping their kids with distance learning during COVID-19). Moms with school age children who are remote learning are much more likely to be responsible for helping their children with school. Sixty-three percent of moms said they are primarily responsible for helping their children with online learning, compared to 29% of dads who said the same. Nearly half of those moms (48%) agreed that online school was overwhelming. (Marketplace-Edison Research Poll) 30% of moms reported cutting back on work hours in order to help their children with schooling.

More than half of Americans don’t see America as the land of equal opportunity
Source: Marketplace-Edison Research Poll
Forty-eight percent of Americans said that generally speaking, Black workers are typically paid less than white workers doing the same job.” Breaking this down by race – more than three-quarters of Black Americans say this is the case. What is also really striking is that 41% of white Americans and about 48% of Hispanic or Latino Americans say this is the case.
In the same vein, six in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation.

COVID-19 changed how we vote
Source: Edison Research Election Polling
During this 2020 General election more people voted prior to election day either by mail or early in person than ever before (at least 100 million). The exit polls and raw vote count showed clear differences in candidate preference according to the method by which an individual chose to vote. Among those who voted by mail (about 43% of voters), Biden won the group by 31 points – 65-34. Those who voted early in person (about 24% voters), split their vote evenly between Biden and Trump. Finally,voters who voted in person on election day, (about 33% of voters), voted for Trump 59-39.

Voter turnout was up by more than 21.5 million people, many of whom voted for the first time
Source: Edison Research Election Polling
The biggest story of this election is the enormous increase in turnout. In 2016 the US had about 137 million voters which was a turnout record itself. For the 2020 General election, turnout will end up at about 158.5 million voters, an increase of about 21.5 million voters. A significant portion of this turnout increase were the 14% of voters who said they voted for the first time this year (whether it be during the primary of general). Of those 2020 first time voters, the exit poll shows they voted for Biden 64 to 32.A final aspect of this high turnout electorate to acknowledge is that it featured a noticeably lower percentage of third party presidential votes than in 2016. In 2016 about 6% of voters voted third party, while this year less than 2% went to a non-Democrat or Republican choice for president.

CHR – Contracting Hit Radio

So much of radio’s self-image revolves around what we radio people know as CHR and what most listeners might call “Top 40.” Those stations that likely use “[City]’s #1 Hit Music Station” as a slogan. Those brands so many grew up with and still look to as leaders – the Kisses, Hots, Powers, Bs, Zs and Channels that populate the format.

And yet, according to Nielsen’s ratings, over the last few years, CHR’s ratings are consistently, and increasingly, fading away.

The nearby graph shows CHR’s total week shares in Nielsen’s PPM markets for each year – January through November (to avoid the Christmas distortions). As you can see, among all listeners (age six and older) the format’s share of radio listening has stepped down steadily in each year since a modern peak in 2014. The drop from 2016’s 8.1% to this year’s 5.5% represents a rather precipitous 32% decline in just four years.

In 2016, CHR was the second-most listened to format, behind only News/Talk. With this year’s tally complete, CHR now ranks tied for fourth, having fallen behind Adult Contemporary and Country.

You might be thinking to yourself – “Is this just a function of young people listening to less radio? Thus making CHR shares harder to attain?” While 18-34 broadcast radio usage is down, CHR’s purchase on that audience is down as well. The second graph shows the same trend but among 18-34s. Shares to CHR are down 30% among this group. CHR has been the highest ranking format among 18-34s in each year since PPM came along, but the gap is dwindling – now less than one point ahead of second-place Country.

And you can cross off two other possible hypotheses:

• Are there simply fewer CHR stations?
o No. Per Nielsen, the number of stations they track in the format is essentially flat.
• Is the listening being lost to other near-neighbor formats?
o No. Rhythmic CHR is also at a record low. Hot AC is at a record low and dramatically tapering off from a 2015 peak. Not-as-near Alternative is at a record low, despite a number of stations switching into the format. Country is at its low 6+ and just above that level 18-34. Urban, Spanish Hits and Active Rock all are essentially flat.

At the same time, the reach, or ‘cume audience’ to many of these stations remains robust. As an example, look at New York, where Z100 currently sits in seventh place in share, but second in cume. Or to find a more extreme case, Chicago, where WBBM-FM (B96) is 19th in share but ranks fifth in cume.

Clearly, something is happening with contemporary music radio across the board. Perhaps there is simply a dearth of compelling current music to play across all contemporary formats – and CHR is just a few hit songs away from changing the trajectory. Maybe the ultra-high spin rates employed by most contemporary stations, but especially CHRs, has caught up to the listeners, creating a high-cume/low TSL vortex. But it seems far likelier that the issues are more fundamental.

The biggest clue to what might be happening comes when one considers this: Among 18-34s, both Classic Hits and Classic Rock are at record high shares. This could be a statement about ‘current’ music and its relative quality. However it seems more likely a factor of who is spending more time listening to radio versus less. Those interested in the newest music are likely scratching that itch more effectively with other, non-radio options – leaving behind bigger shares for those who want to mostly listen to older, ‘classic’ music. Understanding this phenomenon is the first key to figuring out a new way to engage with radio’s competition for those younger listeners.

Super Listeners 2020

EDISON RESEARCH, PODCAST ONE, AND AD RESULTS MEDIA partner to uncover beliefs of the podcast industry’s best customers

Click here to download Super Listeners 2020

According to the latest Super Listeners Study, podcast “Super Listeners,” Americans 18+ who listen to five or more hours of podcasts weekly, see podcasts as the best way to reach them despite a perceived increase in ads. Edison Research, the global authority in audio research, along with Ad Results Media, an audio industry leader in branded personality-driven advertising, and PodcastOne, a subsidiary of LiveXLive (NASDAQ: LIVX), the leading podcast network, announced today the results of the second-annual study on podcasting’s “Super Listeners.”

Advertising on a podcast is the best way for a brand to reach Super Listeners. Almost half, 49 percent, of podcast Super Listeners agree that “Advertising on a podcast is the best way for a brand to reach you.” This finding was up from 37 percent in 2019 – the biggest mover in the survey. Podcast Super Listeners are exposed to the most amount of podcast advertising and provide invaluable insight as to how ads are perceived in podcasts.

Over half, 54 percent, of Super Listeners, said that hearing an ad on a podcast (compared to other places) makes them more likely to purchase a product, up from 46 percent from last year.

Super Listeners are noticing an increase in the number of commercials and ad breaks. Fifty-six percent of podcast Super Listeners believe that the number of ads in podcasts are going up, compared with 49 percent who said the same thing last year. The study also found an increase in those who believe there are “too many” ads in podcasts, 38 percent of respondents felt this way, compared with 24 percent last year. In addition, 41 percent of podcast Super Listeners believe that ad breaks are getting longer, compared to 35 percent last year. Self-reported ad-skipping behavior, however, did not increase substantially.

While quantity and length of ad breaks increase, the positive impact of podcast advertising continues to rise year-over-year. Testament to the positive impact of podcast advertising is seen in the percentage increase of Super Listeners that agree with the following statements:

“Your opinion of a company is more positive when you hear it mentioned on one of the podcasts you regularly listen to” increased from 44 percent in 2019 to 49 percent in 2020.

“When price and quality are equal, you prefer to buy products from companies that advertise on or sponsor the podcasts you regularly listen to” increased from 43 percent in 2019 to 46 percent in 2020.

“You pay more attention to advertising on podcasts than on other forms of media” increased to from 44 percent in 2019 to 48 percent in 2020.

Host-read ads provide tremendous value. Thirty-three percent of Super Listeners say they pay more attention to host-read ads than other types of ads in podcasts.

Super Listeners are consuming more podcast content than ever before. In last year’s survey, Super Listeners reported consuming an average of 9.8 hours of podcasts per week, this year the average increased to 10.5 hours per week.

“We are so pleased that Ad Results Media and PodcastOne have partnered with Edison Research to continue our Super Listeners Research Series,” said Tom Webster, Senior Vice President at Edison Research. “With the quantity of podcast advertising increasing, and the character of those ads changing, it is imperative to take the temperature of podcasting’s best customers regularly. Super Listeners 2020 very clearly shows that while podcasting continues to enjoy advantages as an advertising platform, listeners are noticing more ads and longer ad breaks.”

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 Research 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 Research 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 U.S. presidential primary and general election.

About Ad Results Media
ARM is a trailblazer in the audio industry, leading in branded spoken-word advertising: the most authentic, memorable and mutually beneficial format for growth. With more than 20 years of experience, ARM effectively connects audiences with brand messages, delivering richer and more meaningful ROI in the form of reach, relevance and resonance. The company, with offices in Houston, Austin and San Diego, is a leading purchaser of audio influencer ads globally and leverages its strong relationships within the industry to connect brands with the world’s most high-profile news, sports and entertainment creators. Follow their journey on social @adresultsmedia as they amplify the sound of success.

About PodcastOne
PodcastOne is a leading advertiser-supported podcast company, offering a 360-degree solution for both content creators and advertisers, including content development, brand integration and distribution. Acquired by LiveXLive Media in 2020, the two entities have subsequently teamed to create a new video podcast (Vodcast) network under the LiveXLive umbrella. Amassing more than 2.8 billion downloads annually, the network produces 400+ episodes weekly across a stable of hundreds of top podcast programs, including influencer talent like Adam Carolla, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Austin, Erin Brockovich, Amanda Cerney & Jacqueline Fernandez, , Tip “T.I.” Harris, Armando “Pitbull” Perez, Jordan Harbinger, Heather Dubrow, The LadyGang, Dr. Drew, Chael Sonnen and hundreds more. Its shows are distributed across its own platform as well as LiveXLive’s owned-and-operated channels on mobile, mobile web, desktop and SmartTV’s. PodcastOne is the brainchild of Radio Hall of Famer, Norm Pattiz, also the founder of Network Radio-giant, Westwood One.

Forward-Looking Statements
All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this press release are “forward-looking statements,” which may often, but not always, be identified by the use of such words as “may,” “might,” “will,” “will likely result,” “would,” “should,” “estimate,” “plan,” “project,” “forecast,” “intend,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “seek,” “continue,” “target” or the negative of such terms or other similar expressions. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements, including: the Company’s reliance on one key customer for a substantial percentage of its revenue; the Company’s ability to consummate any proposed financing or acquisition and the timing of the closing of such proposed transactions, including the risks that a condition to closing would not be satisfied within the expected timeframe or at all or that the closing of any proposed transaction will not occur; the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern; the Company’s ability to attract, maintain and increase the number of its users and paid subscribers; the Company identifying, acquiring, securing and developing content; the Company’s ability to maintain compliance with certain financial and other covenants; the Company successfully implementing its growth strategy, including relating to its technology platforms and applications; management’s relationships with industry stakeholders; the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic; changes in economic conditions; competition; risks and uncertainties applicable to the businesses of the Company’s subsidiaries; and other risks, uncertainties and factors including, but not limited to, those described in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on June 26, 2020, Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September June 30, 2020, filed with the SEC on November 16, 2020, and in the Company’s other filings and submissions with the SEC. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof and the Company disclaims any obligations to update these statements, except as may be required by law. The Company intends that all forward-looking statements be subject to the safe-harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

LiveXLive Press Contact:
The Rose Group

LiveXLive IR Contact:

Media Contact:
Cassie McCormick

The Spoken Word Audio Report 2020 from NPR and Edison Research

Spoken Word Audio Share in the U.S. Up 30% Since 2014 

NPR & Edison Research report Women, African-American, Latino/Hispanic, and 13-34-Year-Olds Drive Growth

The share of time spent listening to spoken word audio in the U.S. has increased 30% in the past six years, and 8% in the last year, with the highest levels of growth coming from women, African-Americans, Latinos and 13-34-year-olds. Music’s share of listening decreased by 8% over the last six years. These findings are part of the second annual Spoken Word Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research, presented today in a webinar hosted by Edison Research Vice President Megan Lazovick, and Michael Smith, NPR’s Chief Marketing Officer. The report is available now at www.NPR.org/spokenwordaudio

The Report examines spoken word audio, which includes podcasts, news, sports, talk radio and audiobooks, and finds that  43% of the U.S. population 13+ listen daily to spoken word audio. Additional findings include: 

  • Those who listen to spoken word audio daily average two hours per day listening to spoken word — nearly half (48%) of their daily listening time.
  • Spoken word listening accounts for 26% of all listening by those A13+ in the U.S, up from 24% in 2019.  
  • Podcast and audiobook listening both attained an all-time high reach with 55% of the U.S. population having ever listened to a podcast and 54% having ever listened to an audiobook 
  • Mobile technology is driving spoken word listening: 30% of all listening on a smartphone is to spoken word audio  
  • In addition to the convenience and multitasking benefits long recognized for spoken word listening, other strong motivators for increased listening are personal growth, better content, and spoken word’s ability to improve mental health. 
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on listening as 40% of spoken word audio listeners age 13+ saying they are listening more since quarantine restrictions.

The Spoken Word Audio Report also includes six years of tracking data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear® from 2014-2020, which finds the largest increases in the share of time spent listening to spoken word audio among the following groups:   

  • African-Americans, 12% to 27% (125% increase) 
  • Age 13-34, 12% to 22% (83% increase)  
  • Women, 14% to 22% (57% increase) 
  • Hispanic/Latinos, 15% to 22% (47% increase)

“Growth in diverse listeners is exciting to see and is in sync with our initiatives. As the audio leader, NPR has helped move the needle for spoken word audio and we are encouraged to learn that we are reaching more listeners with our public-service journalism and programming,” says NPR CMO Michael Smith.    

According to Edison Research Vice President Megan Lazovick, “The spoken word listeners we interviewed across the country gave incredible insight into how important the medium is in people’s lives especially during COVID-19 disruptions. People are turning to spoken word audio for companionship, self-improvement, mental health and so much more. While music is still a large part of American’s audio diet, spoken word audio is an essential ingredient.” 

How the study was conducted:
Spoken Word Audio Study: A total of 1,000 online interviews were conducted with persons age 18+ using a nationally representative sample. Respondents qualified for the survey by consuming spoken word audio at least monthly. Data weighted to national 18+ U.S. population estimates. Additionally, in-person interviews were conducted with individuals who listened to spoken word audio at least monthly.

Edison Research Share of Ear®: A total of 4,318 respondents age 13+ completed an online or offline survey which was offered in English and Spanish. Data weighted to national 12+ U.S. population estimates and has been tracked since 2014.

About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information in over 50 countries for clients including AMC Theatres, AMC Theatres, Amazon, Apple, The Brookings Institute, Facebook, The Gates Foundation, Google, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Oracle, Pandora, The Pew Research Center, Samsung, Spotify, and SiriusXM Radio. The national tracking study The Infinite Dial® and the syndicated Share of Ear® are two of the most widely cited studies in the audio space. Edison is also the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the podcasting space.  Edison’s network of more than 20,000 experienced interviewers allows the company to conduct research in almost any location. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool. For the 2020 U.S. elections, Edison will provide exit polls and will tabulate the national vote across every county in the United States for ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News.

About NPR
NPR’s rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling connect with millions of Americans every day — on the air, online, and in person. NPR strives to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures. With a nationwide network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member Stations are never far from where a story is unfolding. Listeners can find NPR by tuning in to their local Member stations (npr.org/stations), and now it’s easy to listen to our stories on smart speaker devices. Ask your smart speaker to, “Play NPR,” and you’ll be tuned into your local Member station’s live stream. Your speaker can also access NPR podcasts, NPR One, NPR News Now, and the Visual Newscast is available for screened speakers. Get more information at npr.org/about and by following NPR Extra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Contacts, Press Only:   

  Laura Ivey
Edison Research
(908) 707-4707

Devon Landis
National Public Media at NPR
(202) 513-3490


Listening Habits During Quarantine: A Share of Ear Report

There have been some marked changes in podcast listening in the U.S. during quarantine as commutes have been reduced and digital audio consumption has risen.

Download Podcast Listening During Quarantine: A Share of Ear® Report

Tom Webster, Edison Research SVP, presented a 15-minute update on the overall listener landscape, with specific focus on podcast listening and insights from Edison Research’s Share of Ear® study and The Podcast Consumer Tracker.  A full replay of the webinar is available here: