Company News · November 2, 2022

Weekly Insights 11.2.22 Mobile Devices or Radios? U.S. Consumption by Age

By Edison Research

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Radios or Mobile Devices? U.S. Audio Consumption By Age

Two weeks ago we talked about the significant milestone that was revealed through our Share of Ear data: More audio is now consumed in the U.S. through mobile devices than through traditional radio receivers. 

Today we break down that data a bit and look at how different age groups consume audio through a mobile device versus a radio. 

For many young people, a “traditional radio receiver” translates to an in-car radio versus a mobile device, which they probably have been carrying with them for years. Those in the older demos have a lifetime of listening and a full range of traditional radio hardware that may come to mind: radios in stereo cabinets, tabletop radios, clock radios, boomboxes, or Walkmen. It’s no wonder we see such dramatic differences by age. 

In 2014, seven years after the birth of the iPhone, mobile and radio were in a dead heat for time spent listening to all audio by those age 13-34.

Today almost half of all audio consumed by 13-34s in the U.S. is done on a mobile device (48%), with 19% of the audio time going to a traditional radio receiver. Keep in mind that this includes all listening in all locations. The rest of the listening is split among devices such as computers, TVs, CD players, etc. This might be surprising for those who believe 13-34s are all-mobile-device-all-the-time – they aren’t. 

Among 35–54-year-olds, when we started Share of Ear in 2014, the share of time spent on a mobile device trailed the share on a traditional radio by 32-points – 48% to 16%. As of our most recent update, the mobile device has erased this entire deficit and actually now leads radio by one percentage point. 

Since 2014, the share of time spent with audio through a mobile phone by those age 35-54 has doubled. This group has spent their adulthood with increasingly advanced mobile tech, but they are still exposed to traditional radio receivers through their existing in-home hardware in-car radios.  

Also, remember that this data refers to the device on which the audio is consumed, not the content. Listeners can be consuming radio content on their mobile phones, for example. 

Traditional radio receivers still have a stronghold with those age 55+ as they consume a little over half of their time spent with all audio (52%) through a radio and 14% of that time through a mobile phone.  

This group used to spend 68% of their audio time with traditional radio receivers in 2014 and 5% with mobile phones. Clearly their audio preference is with radios, but it’s worth noting that their share of time with mobile devices has more than doubled.  

Regardless of the quality and near-endless variety of audio content available, the device through which it is offered will be key to winning listeners as audio tech marches on.  

Also, ICYMI, you can click here to see highlights from The Spoken Word Audio Report 2022 from NPR and Edison Research. Click here to download or view the full report.

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