The Audio Generation: We Are Listening to More Content Than Our Parents Do

The Audio Generation We Are Listening to More Content Than Our Parents Do

Study finds radio continues to reach more people on a daily and weekly basis than any other media and dominates consumer listening across all dayparts. 

Podcast listening experiences fast growth, especially among Gen Z and younger Millennials, as more people use podcasts as a daily escape. 

Rise of smart speakers adds to radio listening in the home with continued listening late into the night. 

The audio landscape is exploding and over the last two years, there has been huge growth across various audio categories including a 2500 per cent growth in smart speaker ownership and more than 48 per cent increase in podcast listening, according to the Edison Infinite Dial 2019 study. Recently Ipsos released a new research study commissioned by iHeartMedia — “Day in the life Audio Journey” — demonstrating that consumer interest in audio is now at an all-time high, with listeners enjoying more audio content across a vast array of platforms including broadcast radio, digital streaming, podcasts and smart speakers. The in-depth multi-platform study explores daily audio usage and habits of Americans ranging from 13 to 64 years old and captures when, where and how these various generations are consuming their favourite audio.

The study highlights that radio continues to reach more people than any other media both daily and weekly. On a weekly basis, broadcast radio reaches 85 per cent of consumers, surpassing all other audio channels including social media (68 per cent) and live television (56 per cent). The research also showed that radio has two times the daily listening of streaming services, reaching 69 per cent of consumers compared to streaming music’s 34 per cent.

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“Audio is hot right now and a must for marketers looking to reach increasingly elusive and fractured audiences. If you look at the data, it’s undeniable that consumers are listening more and watching less and this study outlines when, where and why,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc, adding, “Contrary to some misperceptions, it shows we are living in an audio-first world by drilling down a more granular overview of audio listenership and showing what a day-in-the-life of the average listener is like when it comes to media consumption.”

Although all ages enjoy listening to audio and spend an average of 17.2 hours a week with their favourite broadcast radio stations, streaming music service, podcasts and more, the study found that Millennials and Gen Z listen the most, spending more than 18 hours each week and 2.6 hours or more each day listening to audio. These numbers, along with social media’s continued popularity, reflect consumers’ need for live, human connections.

“Radio has long been a trusted companion for people of all ages so it’s no surprise that it continues to be the premier destination when people want to connect with others and their community. The only difference now versus decades ago is that today people can enjoy that connection anywhere they are across a variety of platforms,” said Gayle Troberman, CMO of iHeartMedia.

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The study also explores where and when people listen and shows that audio listening is most often done on-the-go, with 65 per cent done outside the home and most often in the car, with radio accounting for 65 per cent of in-vehicle audio listening. Radio also serves as a companion throughout the day; it leads media use 70 per cent of waking hours and is the most used audio platform all day and at all hours. The research additionally shows that the rise of smart speakers has made radio more prominent than ever in the home, uncovering that homes with smart speakers have spent 47 per cent more time listening to the radio during prime hours (8-10 pm) than those listeners without.

Consumers are also embracing podcasts, with listening growing tremendously especially among younger Millennials and Gen Z. Compared to just two years ago, podcast listening is up 48 per cent with people aged 12–24, according to a separate Edison Infinite Dial 2019 study. iHeartMedia’s study further found that podcasts now represent almost 10 per cent of audio listening among Millennials and that podcast listeners are also radio listeners, with 82 per cent also listening to the radio on a weekly basis. In addition, radio continues to be the #1 audio choice for Gen Z. and podcasts are replacing online video as a daytime escape for many during work and school.

The study, conducted by Ipsos for iHeartMedia in March 2019, surveyed a representative sample of 6,016 consumers aged 13–64 in the US who listen to 1+ audio platform at least once a week.