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You can hear it on a television…
Anyone who has tried to put together a presentation about audio has encountered the problem of finding stock images that accurately reflect certain audio behavior. For example, search “listening” and you will see people listening to one another; try “listening to music” and you will see smiling people in headphones, some of whom choose to dance; “listening to the radio” fetches images of boom boxes and car consoles, and “listening to podcasts” usually has a combination of mobile phone or tablet and headphones.
What’s missing? There’s another way Americans are choosing to consume audio that is rarely mentioned when we talk about audio consumption — televisions.
Televisions tend to be the center of many homes in America, and in many ways modern televisions have evolved in function almost as much as mobile phones. From their days of carrying a few broadcast channels to their current spot as a hub of entertainment, the importance of TV in the audio landscape needs to be recognized.
Traditional TVs as an audio source provide pure music channels such as Music Choice or other cable music stations (not including MTV or VH1). Internet-connected TVs, or ‘Smart TVs’, allow users to access any number of audio apps to listen to streaming services, books, radio stations, or podcasts. Edison Research’s Share of Ear data measures share of time spent listening through both types of televisions.
The graph below shows that Americans 13+ spend 9% of their total audio time listening through a television. Americans 13-34 spend the most time with audio through a television (11%), with 7 percentage points being on an internet-connected TV. Not an insignificant number.
Americans 55+ spend 7% of their audio time listening through a (mostly traditional) television. We know from our qualitative research that young people report listening to podcasts on their televisions as they do chores around the house, and listening to playlists when they gather with friends.
Televisions are often in the middle of the home and can mean opportunities for co-listening, or listening without earbuds or headphones. TVs can also offer increased audio quality with soundbars and surround-sound systems, not to mention they can display art, ambient images, family photos, or even solid colors that match painted walls. They can be controlled by our voice-operated assistants. They have come a long way since those few broadcast channels.
As audio providers seek to understand listeners, it’s important to remember how televisions have adapted and now sit at the literal center of our homes, poised to be a continued source of audio consumption.
Election Data from Edison Research, available through Reuters
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