The Infinite Dial® Reports · May 12, 2014

Evangelical Christians and the Infinite Dial

By Megan Lazovick

Last week we had the privilege of presenting data from Edison Research’s Infinite Dial study at the Christian Music Broadcasters’ Chicago Non Terrestrial / Social Media Momentum Summit. It was fantastic to see a group of industry professionals devote an entire day to an aspect of the radio business that is so crucial at this moment. In fact, anyone interested in marketing to Christians should be excited about the insights that the Infinite Dial provides.

Since 1998, Edison Research has engaged in the longest-running research study of emerging digital platforms in America. Termed the “Infinite Dial”, the annual report tracks developments in Online Radio, Social Media, Digital Devices, Podcasts, and many other topics.

When fielding this year’s Infinite Dial study, we added a question especially for CMB’s Momentum, to determine whether respondents consider themselves “Born Again or Evangelical Christians.”  This presentation focuses on the 23% of Americans who are white Born Again or Evangelical Christians (for the purpose of this post we will refer to them as “Evangelicals”) and their behaviors in the digital space.

The overall Infinite Dial data shows the tremendous growth of Online Radio listening, social media usage and mobile device ownership.

Here are some key findings on Evangelicals:

The make-up of our Evangelical sample is more female than it is male. And it is also older than what you would see in a national sample.

The Evangelicals are a little behind the total population in online listening — 39% said they listened in last month vs. the 47% of the total population.

Nationally, the use of audio podcasting has reached a new high. 15% of the national population listened to podcasts in the last month. Evangelicals are also at 15%.

62% of Evangelicals said they use a social network and one-quarter of them check their social network several times per day — which is only 3% points lower than the total population. 

An estimated 160 Million people in the United States own a smartphone. That’s 61% of the total population today. Just five years ago that number was only 10%. Evangelicals are not too far behind in smartphone ownership at 55%. 

Tablet ownership nationwide has had tremendous growth in the past few years. It went from 17% in 2012 to 39% in 2014. Evangelicals are right on track with the larger population – also at 39%.

The Internet Audio pie continues to grow.  More and more Evangelicals are listening online and are reachable in new ways and in new places.

More than half of Evangelicals are using social media. This is an opportunity for brands to be closer than ever to their target consumers! In fact, now that people have direct access to brands and celebrities they very well may expect it from every service or product they care about. 

Mobile devices are rewiring behavior extremely quickly.  More and more Evangelicals will be using their phones as portable media centers. If your product is not optimized for mobile then it may as well not exist.  And we challenge you to ask: How else can you be present in the consumers’ mobile lives?

The Infinite Dial data is powerful. But after seeing the big picture let’s go back and consider what it means for each individual.

Through various qualitative projects, we’ve had the opportunity to spend countless hours interviewing radio listeners. These listeners have showed us how big a role radio can play in their lives. In some cases, listeners turn to the radio for comfort before they turn to the people around them. And, especially in Christian Radio, many listeners trust in and look to stations for guidance.

Christian Radio’s relationship with its listeners is good example of what any brand should aspire to. But they must sustain that relationship by providing the best content on and off the AM/FM dial.

And it’s clear from our data that any marketer looking to find Christians can look for them on the Infinite Dial.

Download the complete presentation below:

Evangelical Christians and the Infinite Dial

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