Consumer Surveys · December 17, 2020

Edison Research’s 10 for ’20

By Edison Research

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.

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