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The preferred mode of transport in the holiday classic Over the River and Through the Woods is horse-drawn sleigh, but this year AAA predicts that 89% of Thanksgiving visitors in the U.S. will travel via automobile — almost 49 million people. And regardless of the distance of the journey, many will be listening to audio on the way.
Edison Research’s Share of Ear data allows us to see how much time Americans typically spend with each audio device when they are listening in-car. The graphic below shows that among those 13+ who listen in-car, the majority of time (58%) is spent listening through a traditional AM/FM radio receiver. Twenty-one percent of the time is spent with mobile, 16% with a satellite receiver, and 4% with a CD player.
Gen Z listeners (age 13-24) spend around twice the average time listening through a mobile device in-car: 43% compared with 21% for those age 13+. But traditional AM/FM radio narrowly takes the top spot for in-car listening device for Gen Z at 48%. This might come as a surprise for everyone who knows that Gen Z listeners prefer mobile phones for audio listening overall, and they do, but the in-car environment is different, and young listeners spend almost half of their in-car listening time with an AM/FM radio receiver.
Listeners age 25-54 spend over half their in-car listening time with traditional AM/FM radio (55%), 26% with a mobile device, and 14% with satellite. If we group AM/FM and satellite together as “radio,” then those age 25-54 spend 69% of their in-car listening time with radio receivers.
Satellite posts its best numbers with those age 55+, who spend 23% of their in-car listening with a satellite receiver. When combined with traditional AM/FM radio (66%), those age 55+ spend 89% of their in-car listening time with a radio receiver. This group spends five percent of their in-car audio time with a mobile device.
For all demos, CD players are hanging on in the low single digits for time spent listening in-car.
Keep in mind that one shouldn’t assume that the driver is making the audio choices in-car for everyone, since it is plausible that a parent could be in the front seat, for example, while a child is listening on their mobile phone through earbuds. One also can’t assume that only one thing can be listened to in the car at one time. Regardless, though, what we see here is that radios dominate the in-car listening experience overall.