The Infinite Dial® Reports · March 23, 2022

The Infinite Dial 2022

By Edison Research

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U.S. Online Audio Listening Grows and Podcast Habits Reflect a Return to Work and School
The Infinite Dial® 2022 findings released by Edison Research, sponsored by Wondery and ART19    

Online audio consumption in the U.S. showed significant gains year-over-year, according to The Infinite Dial® 2022 from Edison Research, sponsored by Wondery and ART19. The study also finds the number of monthly podcast listeners declined slightly year-over-year as the U.S. population returns to pre-pandemic routines.

The Infinite Dial is America’s longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America, tracked annually since 1998, and unveils the latest research in digital audio, social media, mobile, smart speakers, and podcast consumption. Edison Research SVP Tom Webster and Wondery CEO Jen Sargent presented the findings onstage at Podcast Movement: Evolutions in Los Angeles earlier today. 

Seventy-three percent of the U.S. 12+ population (an estimated 209 million people) have listened to online audio in the last month, up from 68% in 2021. This jump was primarily driven by listeners age 35+, as the number of those age 35+ who listen to online audio monthly increased by 13% year over year. Weekly online audio listening also rose to 67% of the U.S. 12+ population, up from 62% in 2021.

Podcasting’s reach is wider than ever, but listening behaviors have shifted a bit as Americans return to pre-pandemic routines.  

  • 62% of those age 12+ in the U.S. (an estimated 177 million people) have ever listened to a podcast, up from 57% last year 
  • In-car podcast listening also showed growth: 32% of those age 18+ who have ridden in or driven a car in the last month now listen to podcasts in-car, compared to 30% last year 
  • 38% of those age 12+ in the U.S. are monthly podcast listeners in the current study, down from 41% in the Infinite Dial 2021, but still higher than 2020 (37%) 
  • Monthly podcast listening saw growth year-over-year among those age 35-54, as 43% are now monthly podcast listeners, up from 39% in 2021.   

“Clearly, Americans went back to work and back to school last year, which brought podcasting numbers back in line with pre-pandemic figures. However, the trend line continues to go up, particularly with 35-54 year olds,” noted Webster.

“The podcast industry has grown and changed immensely in the past two years as people’s daily lives changed,” said Jen Sargent, CEO of Wondery. “The Infinite Dial and the Edison Research team are a great resource in helping Wondery dive deep as we continue to innovate on behalf of our listeners, advertisers, and creators.”

Other highlights from the study: 

  • TikTok usage has soared, with 36% percent of those in the U.S. age 12+ currently using the social media service. This is a 57% increase over last year, placing it third for overall social media reach behind Instagram (46%) and Facebook (63%). Among those age 12-34, 61% use TikTok, second only to Instagram (72%). Among those age 35-54, TikTok now surpasses Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn with 34% of those in the U.S. age 35-54 using TikTok.
  • Thirty-five percent of those in the U.S. 12+, an estimated 100 million people, now own a smart speaker. Amazon remains the dominant brand as 23% of Americans own an Amazon Alexa, 11% own a Google Nest, and 2% own an Apple HomePod, (consumers may own multiple brands)   
  • Audio-based social media platforms are beginning to become more well-known, with 12% of those in the U.S. age 12+ aware of Twitter Spaces, 10% aware of Clubhouse, and 9% aware of Greenroom
  • Audiobook listening stayed flat as 45% of those age 12+ in the U.S. have ever listened to an audiobook
  • 39% of Americans 12+ have no radios in their household, and 57% of those age 12-34 have no radios in their household, a sharp contrast with 14 years ago when 4% of the U.S 12+ population had no radios
  • 73% of those in the U.S. age 18+ who have ridden in or driven a car in the last month use AM/FM radio as an audio source in-car, far outpacing the next-closest audio source, owned digital music (used by 53%)

About The Infinite Dial
The Infinite Dial® study uses the gold standard of nationally representative survey research—a random probability telephone sample comprised of both mobile phones and landlines— of all Americans ages 12 and older. Findings from the Infinite Dial have become the barometer of digital audio and other digital media consumption and are widely used and quoted by broadcasters, podcasters, online radio publishers, ad agencies, and the financial community. 

How the study was conducted
In January 2022, telephone interviews were conducted with 1,502 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 commercial clients, governments, and NGOs, including AMC Theatres, Amazon, Apple, BBC, The Brookings Institution, Facebook, Google, Voice of America, The New York Times, Oracle, Pandora, The Pew Research Center, Spotify, SiriusXM Radio, and UnidosUS. Edison Research is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, PodcastOne, Slate, Spotify, SXM Media, ESPN, WNYC Studios, Wondery, and many more companies in the space. Another specialty for Edison Research 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, consisting of ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News, conducting exit polls and collecting real-time vote results in all 50 states. 

About Wondery
Wondery, an Amazon company, is a premium podcast studio known for character-driven, binge-worthy stories including Dr. Death, The Shrink Next Door, Even the Rich and Business Wars, and distribution of hit partner shows SmartLess, My Favorite Murder, and How I Built This. Wondery is behind seven of the “Top 10 New Shows of 2021”, according to Podtrac, including #1 (The Apology Line) and #2 (Suspect). Forty shows from Wondery have hit #1 on Apple Podcasts including Harsh Reality and Operator. Many Wondery podcasts have been adapted for scripted television or streaming series, including Dr. Death on Peacock, The Shrink Next Door on Apple TV+,  the upcoming WeCrashed on Apple TV+ and Joe vs Carole on Peacock. Wondery has gained critical acclaim and commercial success for its immersive approach to sonic, emotionally driven storytelling, which helps listeners to “Feel the Story.” The Wondery app offers a unique, personalized podcast listening experience with over 15,000 episodes, including access to its premium ad-free offering Wondery+. With Wondery+, fans experience early access, exclusive episodes, and ad-free listening. 

About ART19
ART19, an Amazon company, provides cutting-edge tools for on-demand audio hosting, distribution, ad serving, and audience measurement. At the intersection of publishers and advertisers, the company powers hundreds of millions of podcast downloads every month for the industry’s largest shows. ART19 enables publishers and advertisers to manage all content and ad operations in one place, offering best-in-class smart targeting capabilities, seamless integration with listening services, and a flexible infrastructure to continuously enhance revenue opportunities for its clients.

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